Versatility is a common thread when adding talent to the San Francisco 49ers roster. That's exactly what caught coaches eyes with second-round pick, Dante Pettis.
San Francisco moved up 15 spots in the draft to select Pettis with the 44th-overall pick. The 49ers already host a trio of starting receivers in Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Pettis' route running and ability to line up anywhere in the formation just adds another piece to Kyle Shanahan's receiver sets.
During his four-year career at Washington, Pettis totaled 163 receptions for 2,256 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns – twenty-two of those came during his final two seasons. But what's undeniable about his game is his impact as a return specialist.
Pettis set NCAA records with nine career punt return touchdowns, including returns in three consecutive games and led the nation with 20.4 yards per return in 2017. While those numbers are sure to impress, Pettis has his sights set on earning a larger role in Shanahan's offense.
"I kind of view myself as a receiver and not really a punt returner," Pettis said on Thursday. "Everything I aim for is receiver-wise and not really punt returner."
Pettis was also named to football analyst Mel Kiper Jr’s list of instant-impact rookies who are likely to see the field sooner than later this season. Kiper Jr. believes Pettis has the talent to earn a dual role on the 49ers roster.
"The 49ers are an ascending team, but they're not deep at receiver," Kiper Jr. said. "I expect Pettis to get a shot as a deep threat. Where Pettis will make an immediate impact, though, is as a punt returner -- he had nine punt return touchdowns at Washington, which set the FBS record. He's a dynamic threat to score any time he touches the ball."
Pettis will make his 49ers debut this weekend at San Francisco's rookie minicamp. This will be his first opportunity to showcase his pass catching capabilities and make an impression as a formidable receiving option on offense.
"I have stuff that I want to get done, but I've been around sports enough to know how it goes," Pettis added. "You just want to play your rookie year. Whether that's special teams or offense. You want to just get on the field and get your feet wet."