SANTA CLARA -- When 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan stated on Sunday that second-year wide receiver Dante Pettis is still in competition for his spot on the team, some were surprised.
But Pettis certainly was not taken aback. Shanahan has been telling him the same thing all along.
“We’re on the same page,” said Pettis, who sat out practice Monday with what he described as a minor groin strain. “It wasn’t a surprise or anything.
“I think if someone watches the game, they know that I’m not playing how I need to play, so it didn’t really bother me or anything.”
Pettis, a second-round draft pick in 2018, had an encouraging end to his rookie season. He caught 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games. The 49ers expected Pettis to fully emerge as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver this summer.
But Pettis has not made the necessary strides -- a fact he blames, in part, on his actual strides.
Pettis acknowledges he must play with more urgency with the way he runs his routes.
“With me, the way I run is so long and smooth,” Pettis said. “A lot of times it looks like I’m not going full speed, so it’s shortening up my strides, instead of slow ... I’m still covering the same ground, but it looks different. It’s easier to set up routes that way.”
Pettis is a laid-back Southern California kid who thrived at the University of Washington, setting the NCAA record with nine career punt returns for touchdowns. He acknowledges that Shanahan has been tough on him because the coach has high expectations.
“We’ve talked about that. I get it,” Pettis said. “(I’ve) kind of had that my whole life. Coaches, that’s something growing up ... my dad’s a coach, so that’s how it goes.”
Pettis’ dad is former major league baseball player Gary Pettis, now the third-base coach of the Houston Astros.
When asked which coach is tougher on him, Dante Pettis answered, with a laugh, “Right now, Kyle.”
While most of the 49ers’ front-line players were on the field for the first half at Kansas City on Saturday in the third preseason game, Pettis played well into the fourth quarter.
“Just because I believe he needed to be,” Shanahan said. “He’s still trying to earn a role on this team and he’s still trying to show us what he’s capable of doing consistently.”
Pettis caught three passes for 36 yards. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw one incomplete pass to Pettis, who was surrounded by three defenders at the goal line. That play, like others, Shanahan wishes he had seen more aggression from Pettis.
“You shouldn’t throw into triple coverage in that situation,” Shanahan said. “We were fortunate not to have a pick. I’d like Dante to go up and try to make more of an attempt to catch it, but that’s a ball that should never leave his (Garoppolo’s) hands.”