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Shanahan on Pettis: He’s still trying to earn a role on this team

The tough love continues for the second-year wideout

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke with the media Sunday afternoon to follow-up last nights game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Shanahan opened up by mentioning the following players will return to practice this week:

Edge Ronald Blair

S Adrian Colbert

Edge Dee Ford

OG Josh Garnett

TE George Kittle

LB Elijah Lee

RB Jerick McKinnon

RB Raheem Mostert

DL Julian Taylor

Shanahan also mentioned that the hope is for Weston Richburg to be activated sometime this week so he can play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The biggest takeaway was what Shanahan said about second-year wide receiver Dante Pettis. I asked if the offense would look take as many shots down the field this season like we saw last night, then I asked his thoughts on how the wide receivers played; finally, I wondered why in the world was Dante Pettis still in the preseason game with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Here’s what Shanahan said:

“I believe he needed to be. He’s still trying to earn a role on this team and show what he’s capable of doing, consistently.”

Okay then.

At first, it just seemed like “tough love” and that this was an attempt to motivate Pettis. Shanahan’s actions are just as loud as his words. When talking about the play near the end of the game, where Jimmy Garoppolo threw the ball into triple coverage, Shanahan acknowledged that the ball should have never left the quarterbacks hands, but he also went out of his way to say, “I’d like Dante to go up and make more of an attempt to catch it.” Wow.

I’ve already seen some hot take responses to this. “He won’t make the team, just trade him!” Oh, relax. Pettis is going anywhere. The Niners need him. To me, he is the best option in the slot. He knows how to get open. None of this will matter in two weeks if Pettis puts up a stat line like he’s capable of. Shanahan wants to get more out of Pettis, and this is his way of doing so.

To you, what should that role be?