When the San Francisco 49ers opened last Thursday's OTA session, the media was greeted by an aerial display.
Wide receiver Quinton Patton found himself on the receiving end of a 50-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick in the opening team period. The wide receiver lined up on the right and ran a deep post, getting behind safeties Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea before hauling in the perfect throw from Kaepernick.
"Perfect throw. Perfect catch. Perfect touchdown to start the day off right," Patton said.
The highlight-reel play was followed by a brief touchdown celebration, which Patton joked about following practice.
"I had to hit the tootsie roll," he said. "I saw Antonio Brown do it one time so I thought, 'Man I've got to practice that.'"
Patton is entering his third season after being taken by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His first two professional campaigns yielded minimal results – just six catches for 78 yards and no scores.
The lack of production has the former Louisiana Tech star striving for numbers more akin to his success in college. Patton posted back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons with the Bulldogs in 2012-13, recording double-digit touchdowns each year.
"I'm not going to say it's my time, but I'm coming," Patton said. "Playtime is over with."
Anquan Boldin and newly acquired Torrey Smith will likely assume the top two receiving spots on the depth chart, but the No. 3 job appears to be an open competition. The list of pass-catchers competing includes Patton, Jerome Simpson, Bruce Ellington, Chuck Jacobs and the 49ers five undrafted free agents.
Patton said he's seen his added motivation show up on tape when reviewing his practice performances.
"It's a totally different person (on film)," he said. "It's a more confident person and the growth that you can see through Year 1, 2 and upcoming 3. I'm smarter and work harder than I did before."
The receiver's hard work began well before the 49ers began their offseason program at the SAP Performance Facility. A few months back, Patton seized the opportunity to train with Kaepernick in Arizona.
Chemistry is key for quarterbacks and receivers, especially for a pass-catcher trying to become a staple in the 49ers offensive game plan.
"It benefited me just to know that we were throwing the ball together," Patton said. "He was telling me what he was seeing and I was telling him what I was seeing and just knowing where to be. He worked on everything he needed to work on, and I worked on everything I needed to work on. It worked hand in hand."