The marquee football programs at the big universities stumble over themselves to secure commitments from hotshot high school players across the country.

Quinton Patton wasn't on their list. In fact, he wasn't on anyone's list.

The first stop on the wide receiver's path to the NFL was Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, and even the Red Ravens needed plenty of convincing.

After all, Patton played at a small high school in La Vergne, Tenn. He wasn't particularly big or fast, and his grades weren't that good. The one trait he had going for himself – persistence.

"He kept calling; he kept emailing," said Darian Dulin, who was then Coffeyville's coach. "His mother emailed. He practically recruited himself."

Finally, Dulin gave in. Patton was the last player he signed in 2008.

Patton's newest coach, Jim Harbaugh, got a taste of that tenacity last week.

Drafted in the fourth round on April 27, Patton couldn't wait to start practicing with his new squad. He bought a plane ticket from Nashville, Tenn., to San Francisco, and when he landed at the airport on Monday, he rented a car.

Patton was halfway down Highway 101 when he called the 49ers to tell them he was minutes away. It wasn't welcome news.

Draft picks have a 24-hour window to visit their new team, per the new collective bargaining agreement, but they are not allowed at the facility beyond that. If Patton had arrived in Santa Clara, he might have forfeited his chance to participate in the team's rookie minicamp that begins Friday.

Harbaugh talked about the phone conversation – and the mini panic it set off at team headquarters – on KNBR radio last week.