49ers depth chart: Dante Pettis on ‘revenge tour’ in training camp

Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

After looking like a fringe member of the 49ers depth chart, third-year wideout Dante Pettis has undergone a training camp resurgence in 2020.

The San Francisco 49ers aren’t the only ones looking to embark on a revenge tour after a disappointing finish last season.

Third-year wide receiver Dante Pettis has also staged his own comeback, albeit an entirely different one where he didn’t just fall a bit shy from expectations a year ago, rather he fell off the good graces entirely.

The Niners’ 2018 second-round NFL Draft pick’s struggles a year ago started in training camp, marked by drops, a lack of competitiveness and a missing sense of urgency. Those appeared to transfer into the regular season, where he recorded a lowly 11 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Pettis had fallen so far out of head coach Kyle Shanahan’s favor, the wide receiver was even inactive for Super Bowl LIV.

Needless to say, Pettis’ immediate future with San Francisco was in doubt.

Yet Shanahan challenged Pettis during the offseason, imploring him to “go on a mission” to rediscover what made him a 49ers second-round draft target in the first place.

Despite something of a slow start early in training camp, Pettis has responded and then some.

On Aug. 18, Pettis recorded a team-high four receptions and flashed willingness to go over the middle — an element not known to his game in previous seasons and indicative of his potential to fight in some of those tougher areas of the field where physical contact is more prevalent.

After a day off, Pettis again produced a solid day of practice, earning some positive reinforcement from Shanahan, too:

Quite the turnaround. One can only hope, at least for Pettis’ sake, it continues up to and beyond Week 1 of the regular season.

Did Dante Pettis save his roster chances with 49ers?

In NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco’s early training camp 53-man roster predictions, Pettis missed the cut. That was quite the statement coming from one of the Niners’ best media insiders, and Maiocco has an excellent pulse on what the team is thinking.

Yet the past few days have revealed Pettis stands a much better shot of making the regular-season cut, especially considering San Francisco is already banged up at the position.

Wide receivers Deebo Samuel (foot) and Richie James (wrist) are both out, and James is expected to land on the non-football injury list to start the regular season. If that’s the case, it would open at least a six-week window for a player, potentially Pettis, to have a spot otherwise considered for James.

James wasn’t a shoo-in to make the roster by any means, but the competition has been thinned out. The only real threats to Pettis now are players who’ve been brought aboard by the 49ers in recent days: Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown, and none of them are as familiar with Shanahan’s complex offense as Pettis is.

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Based on that argument, Pettis likely did secure himself a roster spot. But what’ll ultimately mean the difference between a brief bounce back and a solid role on the depth chart will be consistency.

That was something lacking from Pettis a year ago, and it’ll understandably require more standout performances in training camp between now and roster cuts.