49ers: Deebo Samuel injury gives Dante Pettis one last chance

Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffering a broken foot during throwing sessions, Dante Pettis could  benefit most in his absence.

When news first surfaced San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot while working out with teammates in Nashville, the 49er fanbase immediately clamored to bring in free-agent receivers.

However, the Niner wide receiver room was pretty full to begin with. And even with the additional news of Richie James Jr. suffering a broken wrist, there are plenty of talented players who should be ready to step up and show out in his absence.

The team has a group featuring the first-round NFL Draft pick, Brandon Aiyuk, to go along with Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin, Jauan Jennings, Shawn Poindexter, Chris Thompson and Chris Finke. The injury to Samuel and James will provide more opportunities for each of them, but no one should be more eager than Dante Pettis, the former second-round pick who had drawn so much ire from head coach Kyle Shanahan that he was inactive against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

After a promising rookie season in 2018 that saw him haul in 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns, Pettis could barely get on the field this past season. He ended the year with just 11 catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. There were no mixed signals being sent to Pettis from Shanahan, going as far back as November of last year, when he told Matt Barrows of The Athletic:

"He’s had a number of opportunities. And I’m one of the guys who believe in him the most. That’s why he’s here. He’s had his opportunities. The more he doesn’t take advantage of his opportunities, the less opportunities he gets."

Strong words for a coach publicly speaking about a player.

This could very well be Pettis’ last chance to earn the confidence of not only Shanahan, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as well. Few can question the talent of the former University of Washington receiver, as he has shown in glimpses an ability to run clean routes and separate. You can see in this video, originally posted by NFL analyst Matt Bowen via Twitter, the ability Pettis has to run a precise route and gain separation.

Unfortunately, he has yet to do it consistently. In fact, there are many who question his work ethic and desire to be great.

Entering his third season in the league, now is the time for Pettis to seize an opportunity to show not only himself, but the Niner coaching staff as well, that he is focused and ready to carve out a spot on the 53-man roster. With the team selecting Aiyuk in the first round, and with the bulk of the receiving corps with significant motivation to prove themselves in one way or another, Pettis will need to show a competitive drive and consistency to secure a roster spot among this talented group.

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If he can get back to playing with purpose and earn the confidence of Garoppolo and coach Shanahan, Dante Pettis could be an important contributor in the offense, which would make them that much harder to stop once Samuel returns from his injury.