SF 49ers depth chart: Dante Pettis can make roster with Jalen Hurd out

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

The SF 49ers are in a bit of trouble following the injury of Jalen Hurd, but it opens up the door for Dante Pettis.

In what was looking like a true comeback season for SF 49ers 2019 third-round pick Jalen Hurd, he unfortunately tore his ACL and will be out for the entirety of the 2020 season. This comes as a real blow for most fans and Niners brass, as everyone was excited to see big things from the former Baylor wide receiver. Many feel Hurd is a do-it-all style player, who could make a dynamic contribution to head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense in many different ways. Too bad we’ll need to wait another year to see just how dangerous Hurd would have been in Shanahan’s modern offensive scheme.

But let’s talk about why we’re really here: wide receiver Dante Pettis.

The third-year wideout has had kind of an up-and-down career so far. His rookie year, while filled with injuries, showed a lot of promise with Pettis finishing with 27 catches for 467 yards and five touchdowns. He was the talk of the offseason and was being touted as the clearcut SF 49ers WR1 going into 2019.

Things quickly took a turn for the worst for Pettis, though, who quickly lost favor in the eyes of the Niner brass as he was reported to have come to training camp unmotivated and unequipped to take the next step in his physical development.

His play throughout his sophomore season clearly declined in comparison to his rookie year. And by Week 10, he was essentially cut from the Niners’ gameplan altogether. He wasn’t even active for the team’s appearance in the Super Bowl.

It’s safe to say that his second season with the team was a complete and utter failure, and many were considering Pettis as a probable cut candidate for the upcoming 2020 season following the presence of several emerging young wide receivers in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Jauan Jennings and, at the time, Hurd. All these players have either proven on game day or in camp they can be trusted and are zeroed in on improving as athletes. Lackadaisical effort doesn’t cut it with Shanahan, which was demonstrated by his omission from the team’s most important stretch of the season.

So what’s changed?

Why would Pettis suddenly be in line to make a championship-level roster after posting an abysmal line of 11 catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns in 2019?

Well, it’s pretty simple: injuries.

Dante Pettis given new opportunity with SF 49ers

I was someone, who if you remember, touted Pettis as one of the team’s biggest cut candidates heading into this season. But even I can’t deny, with the slew of injuries the 49ers have endured, Pettis is no longer a luxury to San Francisco, but a likely necessity. With Samuel recovering from a Jones fracture and possibly missing multiple weeks to start the season, and Aiyuk being pulled from the rest of training camp with a hamstring injury, it’s hard to say the Niners couldn’t use the services of Pettis in the early stages of the 2020 season.

Now, with Hurd going down for the year, San Francisco is short another receiver whom it was hoping could be thrust into the gameplan.

Pettis also came into camp with an all-new mentality, ready to prove his worth to the SF 49ers’ brass. He cited his failure in the 2019 season being due to a lack of physical determination and apathy towards his offseason regime. He also spoke about his inability to harness criticism from Shanahan in a positive way and try to improve on the areas he was told he needed to work. Shanahan and Pettis have reportedly made amends and discussed different ways for Pettis to get back to the level he was at in 2018. Pettis cited his omission from the Super Bowl roster as an all-time low point in his life, and it was what made him adjust his mindset going into his third season in the NFL.

Pettis is definitely a player who has shown his abilities on the field with his crisp route running and elusive speed. All fans of the team would love to see Pettis return to his elevated form from 2018, and this may be his best shot at showing everyone his sophomore season was simply an anomaly.

With large amounts of vacated reps in training camp, Pettis will have the opportunity to show the coaching staff that he was not a glaring mistake in their 2018 draft series.

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It is all but a lock Pettis will be dawning the red and gold for the 2020 season due to the many injuries the team has endured in the past months, but I hope he returns back to form and adds another dangerous piece to the 49ers pass attack.

Let’s hope he makes the best of these opportunities.