The San Francisco 49ers will be looking for new wide receiver Dante Pettis to develop into an impact player in their passing game. But one thing we’ll definitely see from Pettis right away is work in the return game.
Pettis set the FBS record for career punt return touchdown with nine. Last year, he averaged 20.4 yards per punt return, and for his career he averaged 14.2 yards. The video above (or here) shows all nine of his punt return touchdowns.
You don’t just want a punt returner out of a second round pick, and the 49ers are looking at a guy who can bring more to the table. He only dropped three of his 64 catchable targets last year, per Pro Football Focus. He ranked 13th in the nation in drop rate. Additionally, he offers some sweet skills as a route runner. The Athletic film analyst Ted Nguyen broke down what he did at Washington.
Trent Taylor did strong work as a punt returner last year, but odds are pretty good Pettis will push him quickly for that role. The question then is how the 49ers will work him in as receiver. People are talking about him as a potential slot receiver, but he could do a lot of what Taylor Gabriel did outside for Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta.
The 49ers entered the draft with Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor as their top three receivers, with Kendrick Bourne pushing for an opportunity. We’ll see what Pettis is doing in a couple years, but I am particularly interested to see how the depth chart and playing time shakes out this year. It probably does not bode well for Aldrick Robinson.