Niners Live is now turning its attention to some more pressing issues for the upcoming season with the in-Jeopardy Report: Featuring WR Bruce Ellington.
After being selected in the 2014 draft with the 106th overall pick in the 4th round out of South Carolina, Bruce Ellington, at 5’9″ and 197 lbs. possessed the speed, agility, explosiveness and elusiveness to make him an impact player on offense and special teams.
In three seasons, Ellington has played in a total of 26 games, posting just 19 receptions for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go along with 35 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and four fumbles. Not to mention he averaged 25.6 yards per kick return and 7.2 yards per punt return in 2015.
What’s Holding Him Back?
Speed Kills. However, for the much-maligned Bruce Ellington, that skill has yet to be showcased to its fullest due to injuries/health concerns lack of opportunities and improper utilization. Ellington is so athletically gifted he has relied heavily on that instead of taking care of his body correctly, something former Coach Jim Tomsula felt the need to have a sit-down talk with him about back in 2015 per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. Ellington seemed to be in a good place with his confidence and conditioning as pointed out by Niners Live prior to the 2016 season. However, a season-ending hamstring injury derailed any hopes for him to live up to the hype and expectations.
Important to note: Ellington already missed a day of mini-camp this off-season with an unrelated soft tissue injury, which puts him a step behind in learning the new offense.
The 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan will have a plethora of options to choose from in the upcoming season. Pierre Garcon and Jeremy Kerley look like the best of the bunch and will claim the number one and two slots. Ellington will more than likely be in stiff competition for a third WR spot with newly acquired Marquise Goodwin. Worst-case scenario, he may find himself fighting for a 4th or 5th spot, matching up against Aldrick Robinson who saw substantial playing time last year with the Atlanta Falcons under then offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, as well as 2017 5th round draft pick Trent Taylor who led the nation in yards last year with 1,803 and added 12 touchdowns.
Niners live also discussed the possibilities of WR DeAndre Smelter and Aaron Burbridge being able to bring out their best under Coach Shanahan which may also make the road to the 53-man roster even that much more competitive.
To be or not to be that is the Question
Ellington is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. He has a cap hit of $808,607 for the season. The 49ers would save $690,000 against the 2017 cap with $118,607 in dead money if he was to be released. Will Ellington become a Cap Casualty? Not likely. The 49ers have over 71 million in cap space according to overthecap.com. However, since he has to learn a new system and has a history of being injury prone, his odds of making the roster ahead of more qualified applicants such as the aforementioned players may, indeed, put him in deep jeopardy of being the odd man out in 2017.
On a Bonus Niners Live Side Note: The 49ers added, even more, depth at the WR position signing UDFA’s B.J Johnson III, Kendrick Bourne, and Victor Bolden Jr.
As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated, but never duplicated… Go Niners.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.