Wideout Dante Pettis didn’t have the smoothest ride to commence his career with the 49ers. The second-round pick out of Washington was widely considered a reach in the NFL Draft but was a valued Kyle Shanahan selection.
Pettis really caught on during the latter half of his rookie season, developing chemistry with backup quarterback Nick Mullens. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the same groove in 2019 with starter Jimmy Garoppolo, eventually paving the way for San Francisco to trade for veteran Emmanuel Sanders mid-season.
The former Washington receiver was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl and found himself deep in Shanahan’s doghouse. While Pettis earned some playing time in 2020 with numerous injuries to the receiving corps, the 49ers eventually parted ways with Pettis last November.
He quickly landed on his feet with the Giants, being claimed on waivers the next day. Pettis spoke to The New York Post’s Steve Serby about his time with the 49ers and had some interesting tidbits that provide additional insight into his team.
Every coach has their own things, what they like, what they don’t like. At the end of the day, I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. We had some disagreements. I thought we were in a better place the third year, we had some guys playing well, so they went with them. That was my opportunity. I have nothing against them, they have nothing against me whatever, it didn’t work out. Every single player goes through it.
While it sounds like Pettis has moved on and grown from his low point with the 49ers, it’s interesting that he admits that he didn’t live up to the high expectations that Kyle Shanahan set for the young pass catcher.
He further elaborated on his point, adding the following:
Just like they thought I did something wrong or something and I didn’t view it as something wrong. Like on a route or like my second year I guess I was a little more immature where I wasn’t practicing as hard, and they saw that as like I didn’t care or something. At practice like I didn’t get the urgency, I guess. Not disagreements, I guess just not seeing things the same way. It didn’t get fixed as soon as it should have.
If there’s one thing that Kyle Shanahan is extremely passionate about, it’s making sure that his young players develop and practice in such a way that allows them to improve every time they step on the field.
Clearly, it sounds like Pettis wasn’t carrying himself with the necessary level of urgency for being a wide receiver in Shanahan’s offense, and that drove a wedge between the two parties.
Practice plays a big role in how many snaps a player earns, and it sure sounds like Pettis started on the wrong foot with the coaching staff and couldn’t necessarily recover from it. Just ask Akhello Witherspoon how that worked out.
While the Dante Pettis selection is heavily criticized, I do believe that the gigantic whiff has allowed general manager John Lynch to re-evaluate what he looks for out of his receiver draft picks.
The following two high-draft pick selections at receiver for the 49ers — Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk — have been huge successes while playing a more forceful brand of football compared to Pettis.