When Marquise Goodwin was excused for personal reasons and Pierre Garçon went down with injury, all eyes went to Dante Pettis to step things up for the wide receiver corps. He did just that when the 49ers went up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he once again turned in a great performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Last week it was 77 yards and a touchdown. This week, 129 yards and two touchdowns.
A lot of Sunday’s yards come from the 75-yard catch-and0run that Pettis had in the middle of the field thanks to a perfect Nick Mullens throw, but if you watch that touchdown over again, you’ll see Pettis’ route-running, speed, and ability to keep the play alive all on the same monster touchdown play.
Pettis did have some rookie moments. The best play that comes to mind is a catch that if he simply went downhill he’d have a first down, but he decided to take the detour around a defender which lead to a tackle a yard shy of the marker. It’s not so much a mistake to throw a fit about as it is something to showcase his infancy into the league.
Pettis said last week the more consistent play helps his flow of the game rather than coming in and out like he did when the wide receiver pecking order was a bit deep. If these games continue, that statement will definitely hold true.
So that leaves a few questions on the roster. Most notable being Pierre Garçon’s status into 2019. Kyle Shanahan is considering putting the wide receiver on IR due to a balky knee, and given Pettis’ growth through his rookie season, Garçon may be the odd man out. There’s no telling how the 49ers would use Pettis next year—he was drafted with speculation he’d play in/out the slot as well as other positions—but he’s put together a nice rookie season regardless of position.
No, he won’t hit 1,000 yards or monster touchdown numbers like some may want. But neither did Antonio Brown (who we’ve talked about), Jordy Nelson (who lit things up for the Green Bay Packers a number of years), Alshon Jeffery, and many other wide receivers in their rookie seasons who went on to productive careers. It’s going to come down to the work Pettis puts in and if this season is any indication, the sky’s the limit.