Quinton Patton San Francisco 49ers

The Ahmad Brooks thing has been a nice distraction from how putrid the San Francisco 49ers’ offense has been, and that was in full effect today. Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t give any concrete answers to what was going on with the lack of deep throws and pre-play communication issues. As usual, Colin Kaepernick didn’t say much of anything.

In between those two interview sessions, a few of us waited outside in the tent for Bruce Miller and Vernon Davis to do their scheduled interviews at the podium. But most of the assembled media was in the locker room, listening to Brooks speak for nine minutes about his hit on Brees and the resulting fine (which he won’t allow Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi to help pay).

The 49ers need to move on from that play, and the only way they’ll do that is by fixing their offense.

Michael Crabtree could help, but what about the other injured wide receiver?

Quinton Patton has sustained broken bones in two important areas for any player, but particularly for a wide receiver. First it was his left index finger back in August. Then he broke his foot in Week 4 against the Rams, an injury that some predicted would lead the 49ers to place Patton on the Injured Reserve list.

“That’s what I thought,” Patton said.

But instead the 49ers kept him on the 53-man roster in hopes that he’d contribute. They waived Marlon Moore and later they waived Kyle Williams, but they’ve remained patient with Patton.

I asked Jim Harbaugh about Patton’s progress.

“I think very soon he’ll be back to practice,” Harbaugh said.

My follow up question: do the 49ers expect him to contribute this season?

Harbaugh’s answer: “Yes.”

Quinton Patton 49ersPatton wasn’t practicing today. He was off on the side field, along with Crabtree (who doesn’t appear anywhere close to playing a game, unless the 49ers are trying to fool the media by keeping him away from the others while wearing a gray sweatsuit). Patton broke his foot while making an “end cut,” and today said he still has “a little ways to go.” In the meantime, he’s been rehabbing and watching film.

“I learned the offense probably in and out, just critiquing my game,” Patton said of his time away from the field. “Getting a lot of mental reps, like I did before with my broken finger when I couldn’t catch the ball.”

What exactly could a rookie wide receiver — especially one who’s spent much of his first season rehabbing injuries — add to the 49ers? Throwing deep seems close to impossible lately, but Bruce Miller thinks a guy like Patton could jumpstart the passing game in another way.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him, but I know from the preseason and watching him, he’s just another weapon,” Miller said.

“Big play guy, catch the ball at the line of scrimmage and puts it in the end zone. Any time you can have guys make plays pretty much out of nothing, it’s pretty exciting to have on your side.”

I asked Patton about Miller’s comments a few minutes later in the locker room, but Miller heard his name and stood behind me while I asked the question without my knowledge. I was wondering what was so funny about catching a pass at the line of scrimmage and taking it to the end zone, and why Patton kind of deflected my question by saying something about how the offense just needs to find out any way they can to move the ball.

After Patton headed to a meeting, the other reporters (who were laughing while this went on) told me that Miller was staring Patton down the whole time.

Yes, I was on a Patton kick today. Sorry, I’m bored with the Brooks thing.

Here’s what Vernon Davis said when I asked what Patton will add.

“Value. He has the potential to be an outstanding player. He just has to continue to work hard, follow the older guys like Crabtree, Manningham and just play ball. He’s a great person, he’s young, he wants to have success. That’s the biggest thing I like about him is he wants to have success.”

That sounds great, but here’s what Vernon said about A.J. Jenkins back on Aug. 12:

“He really wants to do well. He wants to succeed. I can see it and I can tell by the way he talks to me. He definitely wants to succeed and I think he has all the potential to do it.”

It’s about actions, not words. And the 49ers’ refusal to close the book on Patton’s season says they’re hoping he can give the team what they aren’t getting, which is a receiver who can make guys miss and bail the 49ers out at times when no one else is open. Like Miller said, make plays out of nothing. Because while Brooks and the 49ers defense are doing their jobs, the 49ers’ offense needs to get something from their passing game before the end of this season.