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Is Dante Pettis the key?

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The 49ers wide receiver showed some promise his rookie year despite being injured. Is he the key to this wide receiver group going to the next level?

The San Francisco 49ers have overhauled their wide receiver group over the last two years. A group that was an incredible weakness since the departure of Anquan Boldin. In 2019 they grabbed Jordan Matthews during free agency and drafted Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel. The possibilities are endless, but oftentimes all these recent acquisitions make some forget about the strides Dante Pettis made at the end of 2018.

When he wasn’t injured, Pettis showed some great signs of development. Of course that goes to the issue of when he wasn’t injured, but we won’t talk about that here. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal cited one key homegrown player of each team. What this was was a player taken as a rookie that has developed on their respective team. Pettis was the selection for the 49ers:

Pettis is the closest thing to a sure bet in a wide open 49ers receiver group. With the 49ers taking Pettis in the second round last year and using two more high picks this year on pass catchers (Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd), Jimmy Garoppolo will be looking to determine which young players he can trust. Pettis has the smooth strides, strong hands and advanced route-running skills to glide past defenders. His rookie production (467 yards, five scores, 17.3 yards per catch) was sneaky impressive considering he was only healthy enough to play significant snaps in eight games. In a league where playing in the slot and out wide has become increasingly more valuable, the second-year pro isn’t that far off from a No. 1 receiver skill set. The 49ers’ offense could desperately use Pettis to emerge into that kind of player.

You take Samuel, Hurd, a returning and healthy Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin, and Pettis somehow leads this pack? That’s quite the overhaul. Pettis didn’t put up No. 1 receiver numbers, far from it. Here’s another receiver that didn’t put those numbers up: Antonio Brown. He played in only nine games his rookie season, starting in none. He had 0 touchdowns and 167 total yards.

Every receiver is different, but the point is that even some of the better wide receivers in the NFL had lackluster rookie seasons.

I’ve seen a lot of speculation that Samuel will lead this pack and it’s not a bad take to have. Pettis still has a chance to be the No. 1 the 49ers have been wanting for years. Do you think he is the key to this wide receiver group going to the next level?