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Rookie wide receiver Bruce Ellington’s game is built on his quickness.
But he learned in the 49ers’ exhibition opener that sometimes it’s best to take things slowly.
Ellington is competing for a spot in the 49ers’ offense as, perhaps, a fourth receiver behind veterans Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson. But he is also looking to challenge incumbent LaMichael James as the team's return specialist.
In an otherwise solid opening to the exhibition season against the Baltimore Ravens, Ellington had a muffed a punt. But he kept his composure, picked the ball off the ground and managed to return it 21 yards.
“I took my eye off it,” Ellington said. “I tried to catch it and make my move fast. Once I picked it up, I saw I still had time. I saw I didn’t have to go fast. Just catch it first and then make a move.
“You have to be patient. I just tried to go as fast as I could go instead of just catching it first. “
Ellington has already learned a lot since coming to the 49ers as a fourth-round draft pick from South Carolina. He did not regularly return kicks in college. But against the Ravens, he showed flashes with a 31.0-yard-average on two kickoff returns. He also led the 49ers with three receptions for 35 yards.
He said he is learning a lot from the veterans on the roster.
“We got a lot of older guys playing receiver,” Ellington said. “Being around them, I’m seeing the things they do to prepare as a receiver to go out to practice. They treat practice as a chance to get better.”