A guy named Ellington lined up at wide receiver for the Houston Texans on Sunday and caught five passes for 56 yards on six targets.
Here’s the catch: It was running back Andre Ellington, not his cousin, former 49ers receiver Bruce Ellington.
The latter – and this will come as no shock to 49ers fans – suffered a hamstring strain in the game and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday.
Bruce Ellington dealt with a steady stream of injuries since San Francisco drafted him in the fourth round in 2014. He missed the 2016 season with a hamstring strain and sat out most of spring practices this year with the same injury. The team released him in August.
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Until Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, however, he’d been healthy for the Texans with career highs in catches (29) and receiving yards (330) to go along with two touchdowns.
“We love coaching Bruce,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said on Tuesday. “He brought a spark to our team. He can do a lot of different things. He can play out of the slot, he can play on the outside. He helps us as a punt returner.”
Ellington’s injury was one of several at wide receiver for the Texans in recent weeks and is what led to Andre Ellington having to play the position against Tennessee. O’Brien said a couple of his other injured wideouts – Will Fuller and Braxton Miller – had a chance of returning this week. The team added another former 49ers wide receiver, DeAndrew White, to the active roster Tuesday.
The 49ers released Ellington because they had an abundance of small, slot-receiver types on their roster and because his spring hamstring injury meant that he was low in the pecking order among that group when training camp began.
Rookie Trent Taylor’s emergence – as both a punt returner and slot receiver – was the biggest blow to Ellington’s chances in San Francisco.
Despite being ill before Sunday’s game in Chicago, Taylor had his best game of the season, catching all six passes that went his way for 92 yards. That includes a 33-yard catch-and-run on third down on the 49ers’ game-winning drive that got the team in field-goal position.
“Trent did a hell of a job, he had the flu (Sunday) morning and was throwing up all morning and he battled, playing that game and played very well, too,” Kyle Shanahan said after the game.