Niners Expect Big Things in Year 2 From Pettis

There’s no question the 49ers will try to get stronger at wide receiver this offseason through free agency, the draft or both.

Yet the team also believes it has a potential star already on the roster in Dante Pettis.

In 2018, the rookie second-round pick from Washington missed time because of injuries and had to adjust to playing against better defensive backs than in college.

Yet once he was healthy and regularly getting snaps and passes thrown in his direction late in the season, Pettis shined. Of the 27 passes he caught in the 12 games he played, 24 receptions came in the team’s final six games. He had a five-catch, 129-yard, two-touchdown game against the Seahawks in early December and a five-catch, 83-yard performance against the Seahawks in a rematch three weeks later.

For the season, Pettis had the 27 catches for 467 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging 17.3 yards per catch. Once he had the ball in his hands, the wide receiver was a playmaker.

Now, general manager John Lynch – at the NFL combine this week to assess talent for the upcoming draft – is expecting much bigger things from Pettis in Year 2.

“We loved the way he closed the season,” Lynch told reporters this week. “There’s some maturation that I think is naturally going to come in terms of putting some girth on and some strength. I think this offseason is very important for him.”

Pettis, too, could make an impact as a punt returner, a role he excelled at in college. But as a rookie, the 49ers used him just nine times to return punts.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, like Lynch, is eager to see what Pettis can do in 2019.

“I expect him to come in next year and be even better,” said Shanahan, also at the combine. “He’s a guy who can play all three of the (wide receiver) positions. He’s also a good returner, and we’re very excited that we have Dante.”


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