The San Francisco 49ers moved up in Round 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft, grabbing Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis at No. 44 overall. What should we expect moving forward?
After moving up from No. 59 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers elected to grab Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis at No. 44 overall after an exchange with the Washington Redskins.
Pettis, 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, doesn’t exactly fit the Niners’ red-zone needs many thought the team would address this offseason.
That said, Pettis is a dynamic playmaker with both speed and route-running abilities — an ideal component for head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Pettis didn’t run a 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, but projections had an average below 4.50, which is pretty good. Not breakneck good, but solid enough for Shanahan.
But Pettis isn’t the prototypical “one trick pony,” rather combining his aforementioned package into a player prospect that is more the sum of his parts than an exceptional player in just an area or two.
The 49ers could line Pettis up from any position on the field. He’s more than just a slot option, as the Niners have that spot covered with second-year pro Trent Taylor.
That gives San Francisco some added flexibility. And Shanahan will look to Pettis’ solid hands and excellent route-running capabilities to complement the head coach’s already-dynamic offensive system.
One can’t overlook his special teams abilities either. Over four years at Washington, Pettis returned nine touchdowns, averaging 14.2 yards per return in the process.
The 192-pound receiver is a bit undersized for the position, and it’s easy to understand why he could have some early troubles against bigger-bodied defensive backs at the pro level.
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Good offensive schemes can get Pettis open, and Shanahan has plenty of play-calls to see to this. But it wouldn’t be a shock to see Pettis struggle with press coverage and in crowds down the field.
He’s also not much of a jump-ball receiver, which might not be as big a problem in the middle of the field. Yet San Francisco shouldn’t expect too much of him in the red zone.
How He’ll Fit with the 49ers
As noted, Pettis probably won’t push out Taylor from the slot. But that’s not a huge concern, as Pettis can line up on the outside too.
San Francisco already has two wide receivers penciled in outside — Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garçon. But Garçon, who has a similar-but-bigger build at 6-foot-0 and 210 pounds, will turn 32 years old this season.
Pettis won’t replace Garçon right away. Perhaps not even in 2019.
But the Niners didn’t make this selection for an immediate rookie impact, outside of special teams, of course. Instead, it’s fully reasonable to assume Pettis becomes a key go-to receiver for Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo within a year or two.
And if the Niners are looking more towards the long-term-success approach, Pettis should help set them up well for a while.