49ers' Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis barely played vs. Bucs

49ers' Kyle Shanahan explains why Dante Pettis barely played vs. Bucs

BOARDMAN, Ohio — 49ers' second-year receiver Dante Pettis was only on the field for two snaps in the team's 31-17 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday, and coach Kyle Shanahan admitted that was a slight oversight on his part. 

Looking at the snap count, it would appear that rookie Deebo Samuel and veteran Marquise Goodwin had been tapped for the starting roles, but Shanahan said that is not the case. 

“It’s definitely not Deebo’s job,” Shanahan said. “It’s not anyone’s right now. That's something I kind of talked about all preseason. No one has really taken that role. Dante had a set back with his groin injury where he missed some time in practice. That gave him a little set back leading into Week 1 which made it easier for Deebo to start over him.

"We went in knowing Deebo was going to get more playing time but I definitely didn’t only plan on Dante only getting two reps. He should have been in more than that and that starts with me and I’ll make sure to not let that happen again.” 

Here are the wide receiver snap counts against the Bucs:

Deebo Samuel 60
Marquise Goodwin 50
Richie James 26 
Kendrick Bourne 17
Dante Pettis 2

Each of the young receivers has flashed during training camp and the preseason, making standout plays. The word that Shanahan has emphasized, however, is consistency. He has been waiting for someone in the group to emerge as a consistent playmaker. 

Shanahan might be concerned about the performance of his young receiving group but he isn’t concerned about their potential. He also knows it’s his job, along with the coaching staff, to bring the best out in his players.

“What I’m excited about is that I know we have the answers in our building and it’s taken us a while to do that,” Shanahan said. “But we have guys that are young. We have guys that are very young. We also have guys that are injured so we are working through that right now which is always concerning. 

“Whenever you have a young group, you got to play young guys but you don’t want to put that pressure on those guys who aren’t quite ready. We dealt with that years previously also.” 

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Most players, including tight end George Kittle receiver Trent Taylor, have spoken about how it can take a full season to wrap your head around Shanahan’s complex offensive playbook. While they are able to get onto the field and make some plays, inevitable mistakes eventually occur. Taylor had become a go-to target for Jimmy Garoppolo before being sidelined with a foot injury

"I feel that way about our rookies that we’ve added, but they are rookies also, and if we can get some of these guys back healthy that will help,” Shanahan said. “I don’t feel like we have to go outside or anything like that so we have to continue testing these guys real hard, putting pressure on them and we need them to respond.” 

“I get to see these guys everyday I get to talk to them all the time, I really believe we have the right men in our room. We have guys that can handle coaching, that work hard and this is important to them. And they know that I’m going to be testing them but it’s because I believe in them. We need them to come through, and I know they will.” 

How Patriots trading Jimmy Garoppolo earlier would've affected 49ers


How Patriots trading Jimmy Garoppolo earlier would've affected 49ers

The New England Patriots' ideal Tom Brady successor is the franchise quarterback for Brady's childhood team.

The Patriots dealt Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round draft pick in 2017, to coach Bill Belichick's reported chagrin. He envisioned Garoppolo leading the Patriots into another decade of dominance, but owner Robert Kraft ordered Belichick to trade Garoppolo and keep Brady, ESPN's Seth Wickersham reported in 2018.

Neither Brady nor Garoppolo will be in New England when the 2020 season starts, as the former signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (that's still weird to type and say out loud) as a free agent last month. The Patriots' QB depth chart currently consists of Jarrett Stidham and former 49er Brian Hoyer, which doesn't exactly inspire dynasty-building confidence.

That left NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry to wonder if the Patriots would've been better off trading Garoppolo sooner, when then-Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson stopped just shy of holding a neon sign over his head indicating he would trade the No. 12 pick before that year's draft for Garoppolo.

"On its face, making that move made sense for both sides," Perry wrote Friday. "The Browns were desperate for a competent quarterback. They were flush with picks. The Patriots, meanwhile, didn't have a first or a second-rounder that spring. For them, trading Garoppolo with a year left on his contract represented an opportunity to bolster their 2017 rookie haul with a top-15 talent."

The ripple effects, as Perry noted would've been far-reaching.

Jackson would've had his quarterback of the future, and thus the Browns might not have drafted Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall -- or even had the pick -- in 2018. The 49ers, who Kyle Shanahan admitted were focused enough on acquiring Kirk Cousins as a free agent in 2018 that they passed on Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft, then likely would've gone all-in on Cousins. The Patriots, then, could've drafted Deshaun Watson at No. 12 overall -- the same pick the Houston Texans used after acquiring it from the Browns -- as Brady's successor.

Thankfully for fans sick of New England winning titles, that didn't happen. It's also fair to wonder if any of the teams involved other than the Patriots actually were better off.

Acquiring Garoppolo could've saved Jackson's job in the short-term, but the Browns didn't become a team who failed to meet lofty expectations until after Jackson's firing. The 49ers, had they signed Cousins to the same contract he signed with the Vikings in 2018, would've had more flexibility in the first season but less in the second when compared to Garoppolo's extension. Neither Cousins nor Garoppolo is a clear upgrade over the other, and it's not like you can guarantee Cousins wouldn't have torn his ACL in 2018, either.

[RELATED: Kittle's 49ers rise didn't shock fellow Iowa star Hanks at all]

The Patriots can (and surely will) kick themselves all they want for not maximizing Garoppolo's trade return, but the Browns might not view a hypothetical Garoppolo deal with the same regret since that still would've meant not picking Watson.

The 49ers, assuming they still signed Cousins, surely would've been happy either way.

George Kittle's 49ers rise didn't shock fellow Iowa star Merton Hanks

George Kittle's 49ers rise didn't shock fellow Iowa star Merton Hanks

Tight end George Kittle already is the 49ers’ best fifth-round draft pick since 1991.

Kittle has picked up two Pro Bowl selections and a First-Team All-Pro award in his first three NFL seasons. The 49ers have not experienced that kind of success from a player in the fifth round since the selection of defensive back Merton Hanks, a four-time Pro Bowl player and starter on the 49ers’ Super Bowl champion team in the 1994 season.

Kittle, like Hanks, played college ball at Iowa.

“I think that’s a great symmetry,” Hanks said this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“The 49ers do pretty well with fifth-round draft picks from the University of Iowa. We tend to knock it out of the park a little bit there.”

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Hanks, who now works as senior associate commissioner of Conference USA, described himself as a first-round talent who fell in the draft due to a bad performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He apparently scared teams with his reported time of 4.77 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Kittle had an impressive combine. He had all the measurables, but he did not post great numbers as a pass-catcher during his four-year college career. In 25 games over four seasons, Kittle caught just 48 passes for 737 yards and 10 touchdowns.

In his first 45 regular-season games with the 49ers, Kittle has 216 catches for 2,945 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I can’t say I’m surprised at all,” said Hanks, who referred to Iowa as “Tight Ends U."

[RELATED: How ex-49er Merton Hanks channeled 'Sesame Street' in iconic dance]

Iowa produced two tight ends in the first round of the 2019 draft: T.J. Hockenson, chosen No. 8 overall by the Detroit Lions, and Noah Fant, whom the Denver Broncos picked at No. 20.

“Coach (Kirk) Ferentz had NFL ties," Hanks added. "He understands the NFL game and what tight ends have to do to be successful, not only on the collegiate level, but the NFL level.”