The 49ers are under a different kind of pressure during training camp this year, and these four players are going to be under the microscope.
For the most part, the San Francisco 49ers have the vast majority of their 53-man roster in place. Only a handful of roster spots are up for grabs, and nearly the entirety of the starting crops on both offense and defense are set. Most of the notable battles are going to occur for depth positions and those precious few spots on the back end of the 53-man roster.
It won’t be easy for head coach Kyle Shanahan to decide which players out of the 80-man offseason roster he’ll have to part ways with. Some will be destined for the practice squad, yes. But others will simply be tough cuts.
Yet that’s only part of the context. Players are always under pressure to deliver during training camp, even if they’re well established. Some are squarely on the roster bubble, while others are pegged to have roles bigger than the ones they initially were expected.
For these four Niners players, they need to showcase a lot as training camp ramps up towards Week 1 of the regular season.
No. 4: 49ers Wide Receiver Dante Pettis
There’s been no shortage of scrutiny surrounding third-year wide receiver Dante Pettis, who went from a promising WR1 candidate at the tail end of his rookie season in 2018 all the way to being inactive for Super Bowl LIV.
Pettis managed just 11 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns last year, his presence giving way to then-rookie wideout Deebo Samuel.
But Samuel is out with a foot fracture and could miss the first few weeks of the season. Fellow wide receivers Richie James (wrist) and Travis Benjamin (opt-out) aren’t going to be available either, meaning Pettis gets a slightly better chance to get out of Shanahan’s proverbial doghouse.
Yet Pettis will have to do a complete 180 in comparison to last year, going above and beyond his now-low expectations after a dreadful 2019 campaign.
It might be the only way Pettis sticks around into the regular season.