After trading up to the second round to take wide receiver Dante Pettis, the 49ers seemingly had one of their core playmakers moving forward. However, through nine weeks, Pettis only had three catches for less than 100 yards combined. It was turning out to be a disappointing, injury-ridden rookie campaign that was going to leave a sour taste in 49ers’ fans mouths.
Yet, the last two weeks have been a coming out party for Pettis, adding nine catches on 14 targets, for 206 yards, including three touchdown grabs. With every catch, Pettis is gaining large chunks of yards, sitting at 22.9 yards per reception, over the last two weeks.
49ers’ quarterback Nick Mullens and the former Husky have developed a nice rapport that has helped open up their vertical passing game, especially in the absence of wideout Marquise Goodwin. Let’s take a look at some of the catches from the last two weeks to see what stood out about Pettis’ play.
Against the Seahawks last weekend, Pettis was often matched up against defensive back Tre Flowers, who had a particularly poor weekend covering the rookie. On this first play, Flowers is able to run with Pettis, who stops on a dime and is able to make the easy catch on this curl route. It’s visible how smooth and decisive Pettis is in his route running.
On this touchdown play, Pettis motions over to the right side of the formation. While it looks like man coverage, it was a great disguise by Seattle, who bring the linebacker on a blitz, leaving Pettis some breathing room to make the catch. The highlight of the play is after the catch, as the ex-Washington wideout makes a quick move and turns it up field for the touchdown.
This play is indicative of solid quarterbacking, as well as pure route running abilities. Pettis is able to pull away from the defender at the last possible moment, just as the ball arrives, allowing for a large chunk play.
The rookie does not look like a speedy receiver, but when he gets the ball in space, he always tends to make a home run play out of it. In this instance, there’s no safety over the top, so Pettis is being defended solo on the outside. He makes a move inside, Mullens hits him in stride and no Seahawk can catch him.
I think I’ve seen this play like 37 times. Pettis leaves the Buccaneers’ defender in the dust at the line of scrimmage, giving Mullens ample room to make this throw. With the cornerback out of the picture, Pettis walks into the end zone for six.
Once again, Pettis’ ability to be silky smooth, stop on a dime and make plays is what’s going to keep in the NFL for a long time. The Buccaneers decide to play off coverage, which allows for the rookie to stop and come back to the ball.
Now on this dig route, Pettis shows off his route running abilities. If you watch him enough, you will see how Pettis makes his move. It is rounded and not crisp, but it’s still a fantastic route, that gives Mullens a wide window to throw into.
Last, Pettis isn’t easy to bring down either. He may look like he has a thin frame, but he’s certainly a monster in the open field and just can’t be brought down with an arm tackle. On this instance, the ex-Husky is able to spin away from the tackle and gain an extra few yards before he’s brought down.
The last two weeks have showcased what many 49ers’ fans believed before the season began, which was Pettis becoming a focal point in the offense. Injuries to Pettis set back his role, but he’s started to find his rhythm over these last few weeks, especially with more playing time due to injuries to Goodwin and wideout Pierre Garçon. The former Husky deserves more snaps on the field, as he continues to prove his worth.