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What’s going on with Dante Pettis

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0 targets Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We are going to talk about Dante Pettis until Dante Pettis looks like Dante Pettis again. Last week, Kyle Shanahan said that they meant to play Pettis more, and it was their fault for him only playing two snaps. In this week’s snap counts, Pettis played as much as any wide receiver. Digging a bit deeper, that wasn’t exactly the case.

Pettis was on the field for only 12 of Jimmy Garoppolo’s 27 dropbacks. The only receiver who ran fewer routes was Kendrick Bourne, with nine. Pettis played more, but that doesn’t mean he was more involved. Here is how the targets were broken down from Sunday’s game:

Samuel: 6
Richie James: 4
Marquise Goodwin: 3
Kendrick Bourne: 2
Pettis: 0

What the heck is going on? Since the pass to Pettis was backward, that didn’t count as a target.

Shanahan said that Pettis and Samuel are co-starters. Both play the Z-receiver position, but they both also line up in the slot as well. Pettis lined up in the slot eight times against Cincinnati, while Samuel lined up in the slot seven times. In Shanahan’s offense, it’s evident that he wants to use the X-receiver, where Marquise Goodwin lines up, as the receiver the team takes their deep shots to. With Goodwin’s speed, that makes sense. He also gets open on comeback routes because of that speed.

What happens when Trent Taylor, Garoppolo’s security blanket, comes back? It’s clear that Shanahan is going out of his way to get Samuel the ball, and that’s not changing anytime soon. It’s tough to do less in the box score than Pettis did on Sunday, but I wonder how the receiver roles will change.

What’s encouraging in all this is that Pettis continues to bust his butt as a blocker, and not take plays off. When the offense scores, Pettis sprints down and celebrates with whoever scored a touchdown. Pettis is a good teammate through all of this, despite his numbers not being that. That’s the sign of a great culture.