Ellington’s latest spill came from a kick-off return in Sunday’s win against the Chicago Bears.
49ers special teams co-ordinator Thomas McGaughey, after telling reporters last week Ellington was in danger of losing his job if “he put the ball on the ground again”, changed his stance.
McGaughey walked back on his harsh words at a press conference on Wednesday.
“I’m not sitting up here and saying, ‘I’m going to fire you’,” McGaughey told reporters.
Hayne was cut from the 49ers and then signed to the team’s practice squad after dropping three punts in six regular season games.
Ellington, already the kick returner, also took over Hayne’s punt return job but has been shaky with drops the past three games.
McGaughey’s easing on Ellington came after 49ers’ coach Jim Tomsula seemed surprised when told McGaughey said the returner was at risk of losing his job.
Pressure remains on Ellington, who had three punt return opportunities against the Bears but made just one yard.
He performed better returning kick-offs, with an average of 24 yards per kick and a longest of 40 in overtime.
McGaughey emphasised Ellington needed to break tackles and make game-changing plays, something Hayne was able to do with his limited opportunities.
“Bruce is at a point right now where he needs to get better as far as making decisions, as far as making plays,” McGaughey said.
“There’s some plays out there we wished we would have had.”
Ellington’s latest drop came early in the second quarter when he attempted to catch an easy kick in the end zone and it went through his hands and fell to the ground.
He picked it up and almost reached the 20-yard line.
The 49ers play the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland on Sunday.
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