The San Francisco 49ers will be counting on a bigger climb from their second year players in 2019 than they got from second year players in 2018. Solomon Thomas seemed to settle into a groove late in the season, but really George Kittle and D.J. Jones were the only second year players to take a big step forward from their rookie seasons.
The 49ers got solid work from their 2018 draft class, raising expectations for next season. One player who impressed and could have a big year with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo is wide receiver Dante Pettis. ESPN put together a rundown of 2019 predictions, and Pettis got some love from Matt Bowen in the category, “Which 2018 rookie will make the biggest jump in Year 2?”
From Weeks 10 through 16, we saw the skills of Pettis as a route runner; during that stretch, he caught 24 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns. He also exhibits clean footwork and the speed to separate. And he is playing in one of the best passing systems in the league under coach Kyle Shanahan. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back in next season, the second-round pick Pettis could put up some legit numbers.
Injuries slowed Pettis for much of his rookie year, but he had that strong run in the back half of the season that is setting him up with a big opportunity in 2019. He’s got the kind of impressive footwork that can take some receivers years to develop. His ability to move in space and make defenders look silly seems ideally suited for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. His skills are suited for anybody, but given what we’ve seen Shanahan do with his receivers to date, I’m excited to see what 2019 might bring.
With that in mind, what kind of season do you expect from Pettis? Adding an Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. would certainly shake up any predictions, but barring a big name addition, what kind of numbers would not surprise you?