Dante Pettis leads 49ers receivers in snaps vs. Broncos, shows promise


Dante Pettis leads 49ers receivers in snaps vs. Broncos, shows promise

SANTA CLARA -- Marquise Goodwin’s low snap count in the 49ers' 20-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday wasn’t just because the receiver had been absent for two games.

It was more about getting rookie Dante Pettis additional playing experience. And he got just that, with a team-leading 61 snaps at receiver.

Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff have regularly eased players back into the mix if they've been out for injuries or otherwise. It seemed to be the case for Goodwin’s return to the field after he missed two games while dealing with personal issues.

Shanahan explained that it was for a different reason this time, though. As he did with many positions, the 49ers coach wanted to see what some of the younger players could prove on the field. As a result, Pettis and second-year pro Kendrick Bourne, who was on 43 snaps, had the lion’s share of reps against the Broncos.

“We were going to feel it out as the week went,” Shanahan said of working Goodwin back into the lineup, as he had 24 snaps. “I thought he had a very good week of practice and got better, especially as the week went. He didn’t work at Z all week, but he was comfortable with it.

“Quise understands our offense pretty well. Just talking to him Saturday night and seeing where he was at, we told him if he felt good with it, we were going to throw him in at Z a little bit more so we could leave Dante on the field a little bit longer. He was up for the challenge and did a real good job in there.”

[RELATED: 49ers snap count report from win over Broncos]

Pettis had successes and challenges on the field. While he made some key plays, he also had a gut-wrenching drop. He finished the day catching three of his seven targets for 49 yards and one touchdown.

Shanahan explained Pettis' increased snap count hopefully will help the second-round draft pick be more consistent in the future.

“Yeah, that’s definitely the plan right now,” Shanahan said. “It started in Tampa [two weeks ago]. But that's something just realizing as coaches, Dante, we haven’t been ready to throw him out there a ton because he’s shown he’s not 100 percent fully ready to handle that.

“But what has been neat to watch him is, when we didn’t have a choice and had to throw him out there, he did some things that he wasn’t ready for that we anticipated. But, by going through it, he got better as the game went with it.

“He made some mistakes in Tampa in the first quarter that he was better in the second quarter and got him some experience that he needs. I thought he was better in Seattle after that. Just being out there playing more, he is a very smart guy who listens and understands what you’re saying. But you’ve always got to put athletes kind of through those situations so they can feel it themselves. He has, and he’s gotten better from it.”

Pettis has played in 10 games and caught 19 passes on 35 targets. He's currently second on the 49ers in receiving yards with 363, behind tight end George Kittle's 1,103. Goodwin is third with 359 yards.

This stat shows how 49ers were most balanced team in NFL last season

This stat shows how 49ers were most balanced team in NFL last season

After combining for 10 wins the two previous seasons, the 49ers dominated most facets of the game last season. Balance might be the word that best describes their 2019 campaign. 

Pro Football Focus highlighted just how great they were on both sides of the ball. The 49ers were the only team to grade in the top five on offense and defense.

While PFF uses analytics for an advanced grading system, the traditional stats speak to San Francisco's balance, too. 

On offense, the 49ers ranked fourth in total offense (6,097), 13th in passing yards (3,792), second in rushing yards (2,305) and second in points per game (29.9). They also tied for the seventh-most passing touchdowns (28) and led all of football with 23 rushing TDs.

[RELATED: Defending Jimmy G: Why 49ers QB deserves more respect]

On defense, the 49ers allowed the second-fewest yards per game (281.8), the least amount of passing yards per game (169.2) and ranked 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (112.6). And they ranked eighth in points allowed per game at only 19.4. 

The 49ers beat teams by putting a barrage of points on the scoreboard and by stifling opposing offenses. They'll need the same kind of dominant, balanced attack to make it back to the Super Bowl, too.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk reaches 'soft 21 mph' running on treadmill

49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk reaches 'soft 21 mph' running on treadmill

Every year at the NFL Scouting Combine, all eyes are on the 40-yard dash. Sometimes, though, numbers do lie. 

Brandon Aiyuk, who the 49ers took with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, ran a 4.50 40, but in reality, he likely is even faster. The former Arizona State receiver was coming off a core-muscle injury that surely hurt his time. 

How fast is the rookie? Well, he ran a "soft 21 mph" in a recent workout video. 

Aiyuk's speed actually is so impressive that only three players in the NFL reached a faster in-game speed than him last year. Tracked by a GPS device in Aiyuk's shoulder pads, he got up to 21.3 mph in 2019. Former 49ers running back Matt Breida had the fastest in-game speed in the NFL last season at 22.3 mph. 

[RELATED: Defending Jimmy G: Why 49ers QB deserves more respect]

As a senior last season, Aiyuk hauled in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards (18.3 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns as freshman Jayden Daniels' top target. Aiyuk also averaged 31.9 yards per kick return and 16.1 yards per punt return. 

There's no doubt Aiyuk will have a tough learning curve in Kyle Shanahan's complex offense, especially with such an odd offseason. At the same time, he could be the perfect deep target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, especially with his blazing speed. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]