Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Deebo Samuel. What do these four wide receivers have in common? All of them have 6+ receptions and 110+ yards in consecutive games their rookie season.
If you want to really weed them out, only Samuel and OBJ have had two consecutive games with eight catches and 100 yards their rookie season out of that group (OBJ had four games with that statline). It’s safe to say the Samuel pick is working out for Kyle Shanahan.
There are two things to really take from the above numbers. The first is the 49ers have a gem of a player in Samuel, and once they get George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders healthy, that pass group is going to be something fierce. The other thing is that Samuel might finally be the big No. 1 wide receiver Kyle Shanahan has been after. Well, in a year or two. At the moment, Sanders has been picking up the slack of an inept offense, and like Kittle from 2018, those numbers could go down once Jimmy Garoppolo has other wide receivers to throw to.
Or Samuel takes those numbers and continues to turn things in. We still haven’t seen how this group will be with Jalen Hurd or Trent Taylor (and probably won’t for 2019).
But then there’s Dante Pettis, who is seen on the sidelines more nowadays. I got the above stats of the rookie company Samuel was in via KNBR’s Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks podcast, where John Middlekauff was a guest. Not only did Middlekauff provide that above stat nugget, but provided some context on the status of Dante Pettis, who has been dropping further into Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse:
“With Dante (comparing Samuel and Pettis), I guess you just look at it as, what does Pettis do well? He’s not physical. He’s not really a speed demon. In college, he broke DeSean’s [Jackson] record for punt returns. He doesn’t even do that for this team. Clearly, Shanahan, like every other game, wants to cut him, but he’s a second-round pick. So you can’t cut quite yet.
“I think, and I’m not trying to overreact. We’re only what? The second year of his career and ten games in. So 16-plus, 26 total games, but it feels like it’s already over, right? I sometimes think, especially in football, you know it right away. Last year, it was, “Whatever, he’s a rookie, things get weird.” But then the second year, all these guys pass him. Kendrick Bourne, much better player. Deebo, it was clear like, in training camp. Emmanuel Sanders comes in; he’s got broken ribs, he runs circles around him. It’s just like it’s not going to work out here, and they’re not going to be able to trade him for much. I’m just at the point where he’s not going to play much moving forward unless they just have catastrophic injuries, which you never know with this team. But it’s just (that) he’s going to be a non-factor for this team moving forward, and I expect him not to be on this team.”
I think Pettis gets one more year for the precise reason outlined above. Like Ahkello Witherspoon, he could be having a sophomore slump and turn things around in year three. That keyword being “could.” He also could be a casualty when the 49ers have Taylor and Hurd healthy. Cutting someone like Kendrick Bourne over Pettis doesn’t seem like the best of moves.