Just after a promising start to his NFL vocation, Dante Pettis went backwards last season.
The 49ers receiver hauled in 27 receptions for 467 yards and 5 touchdowns in 12 games as a rookie, but manufactured a disappointing sophomore campaign in which he fell down the depth chart and ended up in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse.
It presently was going to be a very important third NFL season for Pettis, and when San Francisco selected two receivers — Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings — in the 2020 NFL Draft, it surely appeared like he was heading to have a tough time producing the slash for the 53-person roster. The 49ers are unlikely to keep far more than 6 receivers — however the practice squad probable will be expanded — and with Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor generally certain locks, it seemed like Pettis, Jennings, Richie James and Travis Benjamin would be competing for a single spot. It was by no usually means a certainty that Pettis would arise from that competition.
Then Samuel sustained a Jones fracture in his foot, James fractured his wrist and Benjamin opted out. Out of the blue, Pettis’ prospective customers have been on the lookout up. He’d be able to get in a complete offseason of operate while others couldn’t, and his expertise logically would give him a leg up in excess of a rookie, significantly supplied the irregularity of the offseason triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
But the occupation was not likely to be handed to him — which is not how Shanahan rolls. And it would seem the strain on Pettis to have an impressive camp has now been ramped back again up.
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Samuel’s personal injury could quickly open up up a location if the 49ers decide on to engage in it protected and put him on the Bodily Unable to Conduct (PUP) checklist, holding him out for the initially six weeks of the season. Of program, dependent on the point that he presently is cutting devoid of a forged, which is no assure.
James presently is on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, but if he’s balanced, he may possibly be the favored to consider the ultimate spot (or Samuel’s short term a person.) But now he and Pettis will facial area further opposition in the sort of veteran receivers Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson, who reportedly will be signed by the 49ers, pending physicals.
Like James and Pettis, Austin and Nelson convey a great deal of speed to the table. In reality, they may possibly be even quicker. Nelson ran the quickest 40-garden sprint at the 2015 NFL Combine (4.28 seconds), whilst Austin ran his in 4.34 seconds two a long time before. Austin is the most expert of the 4 with 96 career game titles and also presents enough experience as a kick and punt returner.
Austin and Nelson undoubtedly ended up brought in to deal with a shortage of healthier bodies at the situation, but they are definitely able of rising from the opposition, and Shanahan clearly needs to add extra of a pace factor to it.
Pettis was an amazingly dynamic returner in higher education and confirmed great receiving prospective as a rookie. He arguably is the most gifted of people in contention for the last receiver place (or two), but he also has had the most chances to establish himself to the coaching employees.
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There was a time when Pettis’ route to the 53-person roster appeared published in pencil, at minimum. That no for a longer period is the circumstance, and the tension is mounting on him to stand out through training camp.
Normally, he could not adhere about.
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