SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, self-admittedly, has a new favorite player.
The honor belongs to fourth-round pick Quinton Patton, a wide receiver from Louisiana Tech, and the rationale has nothing to do with football.
Patton was so excited to begin his NFL career that after being drafted by the 49ers, he bought his own plane ticket and flew from Nashville to San Francisco to get to work.
Except there was one problem: rookies aren't allowed to be at their team facility until rookie minicamps officially begin. If they do show, they won't be able to participate in those minicamps.
"He calls us (Monday), and he said he's here," Harbaugh said in an interview on KNBR 680 raiod. "He's on his way, just landed at the airport, he's in his rental car, he's coming over to the facility and he can't wait to get started. Which we had to go, 'You're where? What airport did you fly into? You're in a rental car driving here?'"
"Yeah, coach," Patton said. "I'm 20 minutes away."
In somewhat of a panic, Harbaugh had to tell him to flip a U-turn and head back to the airport.
"The amazing story is we had to (tell him) on the phone, "Stop, Quinton. You've got to go back to the airport and fly back to Nashville," Harbaugh said. "You can't come here until the rookie minicamp."
The team informed the league of the mix-up and also got in touch with his agent, who said, "You know, Quinton said he was so excited to get started he was just going to get a plane ticket and fly himself out there. But I thought he was just kidding."
The gung-ho attitude made an impression on Harbaugh, who likened it to something he would have done.
"He's already my favorite guy," Harbaugh said.
When the idea that cutting him would now be more difficult if it came to that, Harbaugh dismissed that as a possibility.
"That's not going to happen," he said.
-- Joel Patten has been promoted to the director of player personnel, replacing Tom Gamble, who left to join the Philadelphia Eagles in February. Patten has been the team's director of college scouting the last three seasons and also worked with general manager Trent Baalke with the Washington Redskins.
-- The 49ers promoted Justin Chabot to national scout, Josh Williams to pro personnel scout and Steve Rubio to regional scout.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I love it. I can't wait. It's probably the best money he's ever spent, even though he had to just fly out here and fly back home. It's the best money, because if he plays for 10 or 15 years in this League, every time somebody talks about Quinton Patton they're going to recall the story." -- Jim Harbaugh on Quinton Patton buying his own plane ticket from Nashville to San Francisco.