No. 5: WR Dante Pettis
Even before the injuries to Samuel and James, third-year wideout Dante Pettis was probably already on thin ice.
He barely played throughout the final portion of the 2020 season and wasn’t even active for the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not exactly an endorsement for the continued uptick of a career many expected after the strong end to his rookie season.
But given the youth movement that seems to be happening in the 49ers wide receiver room, Pettis was likely to be given the longest leash and the most opportunities to prove himself. Others like Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd and even someone like Travis Benjamin would have less to prove in order to make the roster.
And while it still seems likely Pettis is on the roster once the team breaks training camp after its fourth preseason game on Sept. 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi’s Stadium, the Samuel injury may actually negatively impact that chance. If Samuel isn’t quite ready to start the season, but is still likely to be good or week or two in, someone else may get cut while he continues his rehab.
So it’ll be imperative for Pettis to step up and show himself to be worthy of a roster spot not just to justify his making the team, but also because he’s definitely one of the most skilled members of the receiving corps, even if he hasn’t already shown it.
Samuel may recover quickly and be back to his top-notch self once the 2020 season is ready to begin, but having Pettis live up to his potential would only make the 49ers offense that much more dangerous.