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Bruce Ellington Builds Confidence in Slot Role

Posted Aug 23, 2016

Ellington's role in Chip Kelly’s offense makes him one of the most critical play-makers to watch this season.

Jimmie Ward paid respect where it was rightfully due.

Two notable members of the San Francisco offense returned to practice on Monday. They also hooked up on a deep corner route in a 7-on-7 period at the expense of Ward.

Enter Colin Kaepernick and Bruce Ellington, who have been sidelined with shoulder soreness and a sprained ankle, respectively.

“Bruce Ellington, that’s one guy that’s hard to cover,” Ward said of the starting slot receiver. “Bruce is very shifty, and he has great speed.”

Kaepernick’s almost two-week absence from practice has been the talk of the 49ers preseason. Ellington, on the other hand, was sidelined for last week’s joint practices and preseason game against the Denver Broncos.

Ellington rolled his ankle in San Francisco’s Week 1 preseason loss to the Houston Texans.

“It feels good to be back out there competing,” the third-year pro said. “I love competing. Going against those guys, I know they love to compete, too. Everyone is getting better. Iron sharpens iron.”

The 5-foot-9, 197-pound receiver has 19 receptions for 215 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 26 career games. Ellington has an opportunity to surpass those numbers in the upcoming season. His role in Chip Kelly’s offense makes him one of the most critical play-makers to watch this season.

“The first two years were just learning (experiences),” Ellington said. “Now having the confidence that I have, I think this offense, I love it so much, I think everything is coming together.”

Ellington raved about how Kelly’s offense gets the ball into play-maker’s hands.

“He allows you to go out and play,” Ellington added. “He calls the plays to allow you to do what you do.”

The up-tempo nature of Kelly’s scheme is also appreciated by Ellington, who enjoys running deep routes and sprinting back to the line of scrimmage to be involved in the very next play.

“I’m the type of guy who never gets tired,” the receiver said.

Ellington has improved his training methods to get the most of his body. An improved diet, a focus on pre-practice stretching and post-practice regenerations methods, coupled with offseason yoga sessions with teammate Tramaine Brock, have all helped Ellington’s body reach its full potential.

Then there’s Anquan Boldin.

The former 49ers wideout, who made a living in the slot, is still around to answer questions from Ellington via phone calls and texts.

“There are so many things that he taught me that I can do to defensive players – get my leverage – how to get open,” Ellington shared. “I feel very confident without him being here, but still here, I can call him anytime.”

Ellington’s focused on mastering one position and returning punts and kicks on special teams. It’s not like previous years where he’s studying multiple receiver positions.

“Right now they have me in the slot, and I’m taking full advantage of that, just learning everything I can do in the slot for this offense,” Ellington said. “(I’m) pretty much ready to go out there and play.”

So if anyone was looking for co-signage on how Ellington has looked this offseason, look no further than Ward, who saw slot coverage reps on Monday for the first time in weeks.

“He knows what the defense is in,” Ward began. “Then he uses great leverage. He’s very fast and a very shifty person.”

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