San Francisco 49ers wide receivers coach Mike LaFleur will have mostly familiar faces in his room in 2018. Names like Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor still headline the 49ers crop of wide receivers.
San Francisco currently has 11 wideouts on the roster, three of which are new this season. LaFleur met with the media after Tuesday’s practice and was kind enough to provide a scouting report for each of the rookies. Here are his thoughts on the trio.
Pettis’ standout career at Washington was highlighted by his NCAA record nine punt return touchdowns. He also racked up 2,256 receiving yards and a whopping 24 receiving touchdowns. The 49ers fell in love with his tape, so much so that the team traded up to land Pettis in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
“Obviously, taking him in the second round we thought very highly of him,” LaFleur said. “The two things that you think of with him – you think of ball skills and versatility. He can do a little bit of everything. He can play inside. He can play outside. It popped off the film for him, and it’s shown out here. He’s been very, very good in the classroom. He can pick stuff up quick and then translate it out (at practice).”
When the 49ers selected Pettis, draft experts immediately pegged him as a slot receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. LaFleur explained that San Francisco is going to take its time in evaluating Pettis. He’s gotten reps at all three receiver spots during OTAs. That will continue until the 49ers zero in on his best fit.
“For us, we saw the versatility in him,” LaFleur said. “I don’t think he’s limited (to one spot). He’s got the speed to stretch the field. He’s got the hands to play over the middle. He’s got the separation ability if we need him on third down to separate in the slot.
“He’s got to grasp it all. We’re throwing a lot at him, probably more than we’re used to (throwing at) a rookie. But I wanted to, and Coach Shanahan wanted to – just challenging him and seeing what he can grasp this offseason.”
Richie James Jr.
The 49ers used a seventh-round flier on James, a player who was very productive at Middle Tennessee State. James was injured for most of the 2017 season, but posted a combined 212 receptions for 2,959 yards from 2015-16.
“What you saw from his college tape is just a gritty competitor,” LaFleur said. “People see him as a slot (receiver), but he’s got the speed to play on the outside, too. That’s been really encouraging. He’s a guy who is locked in and focused during meetings.”
Steven Dunbar Jr.
Dunbar was one of the 49ers post-draft additions. The undrafted wideout stands tall at 6-foot-3 and posted 180 receptions for 2,430 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons at Houston. He caught a touchdown during a red zone period last week.
“A lot of guys didn’t know too much about him when he came out,” LaFleur said. “We noticed him right off the bat from his tape. T.C. McCartney, our quality control coach, noticed his hands and his range when the ball is in the air.”