Dante Pettis is a talented player who has shown an ability to make plays. Yet he enters the 2020 season with the embarrassment of being a health scratch in the Super Bowl. Injuries have placed a spotlight on the wide receiving group for the San Francisco 49ers. Pettis is positioned to make a play and earn playing time for the 49ers on offense. Can he do it?
Heading into the 2019 season, Pettis was looked at as being a breakout candidate. His 2018 rookie season total 467 yards receiving on just 27 receptions. Injuries hindered his production as a rookie, causing him to miss five games. A full offseason of training and more time in the system positioned Pettis to make a leap forward and improve on his rookie numbers. The 2019 season did not play out that way.
In his second season, Pettis played in just 11 games, starting four of them. Pettis was listed as questionable or out in three contests. The remaining games, including the Super Bowl, featured Pettis on the sidelines or in street clothes. In the same amount of games played as his rookie season, Pettis finished with less than half the receptions (11 vs 27), less than a quarter of the receiving yards (109 vs 467), and fewer touchdowns (2 vs 5). All of this, with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
The Dog House
During a season where the 49ers were searching for a wide receiver to take control and command the football, Pettis failed to leave the starting gate. In 11 games, Pettis played 50% or more snaps in only four contests. In those four games, he totaled four receptions, twice being held without a catch.
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By November he was relegated to special team duty. The last game where Pettis played a snap, occurred on November 24th against the Green Bay Packers. San Francisco won by 29 points but Pettis played only seven snaps. He did not see the field for the rest of the regular season or playoffs. Head coach, Kyle Shanahan pointed at Pettis’ inability to take advantage of opportunities, as the reason for his lack of playing time. Shanahan went so far as to acknowledge that Pettis had taken a “documented step back” during a press conference at this year’s scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Now More Than Ever
The 49ers are battling injuries, specifically at the wide receiver position. Deebo Samuel is recovering from a foot fracture and could miss the first few games of the new season. First-round selection, Brandon Aiyuk, is nursing a hamstring injury. Jalen Hurd suffered an ACL tear, ending his 2020 season. Richie James Jr. suffered a broken hand. Add in the departure of Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and the opt-out of free-agent signee, Travis Benjamin.
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Injuries have gifted the opportunity for Pettis to lay claim to more than just a roster spot. The wide receiver enters his third season with Kyle Shanahan’s system and has the skill set to compete for a starting job. Now is the best time to prove his worth with the first two options sidelined. The primary competition will be Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor. Pettis has the pedigree to beat both but it will come down to his ability to finally put his ability on full display. At the end of the day, Shanahan will only use the players who can prove they can contribute on the field. For Dante Pettis, this could be his last chance as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covered the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada