49ers send eager rookie home

San Francisco’s fourth round pick, Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton, might be a little too excited to start living his NFL dream.

Earlier this week, one of the newest 49ers dipped into his own pockets to fund a plane ticket and rental car from his Nashville home to visit the team facilities. In his eagerness to begin the off-season preparations, Patton was sent home by Jim Harbaugh just 20 minutes away from the team headquarters.

So why did the team turn away one of the bright draft prospects?

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the NFL forbids team contact with a player before the start of NFL rookie minicamps. There is an additional rule which states that they cannot be introduced by the media for at least 24 hours after the prospects are drafted.

Had Patton shown up to the 49ers facilities, he would have been barred from attending the rookie mini camps and would begin his season with a steep learning curve; precisely the reason that Harbaugh had to break the bad news to his anxious rookie receiver.

Smiling, Harbaugh told KNBR-AM radio in San Francisco that Patton is “already his favorite.”

“The fact that he would buy his own ticket and fly out here just speaks volumes about him,” said Harbaugh. “To be honest with you, he reminds me of me. That’s something that I would have done. I love it.

Though Patton’s wallet might now be a little lighter, he has earned the respect of his head coach before even stepping on the practice field.

Plane ticket: $250

Rental car: $100

Earning your coach’s respect: Priceless

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