49ers GM Lynch believes Pettis is primed for comeback year


SANTA CLARA -- After a disappointing second season, 49ers general manager John Lynch believes receiver Dante Pettis has prepared himself to make an impact in 2020. 

After showing promise his rookie year, Pettis seemed ready to develop into an integral part of coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The University of Washington product had shown enough in college for the team to select him with the No. 44 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. 

Pettis' second professional season did not go as planned -- his production dropped to less than 25-percent of his rookie year. He caught only 11 of his 24 targets for 109 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. He was one of the team’s seven inactive players in Super Bowl LIV. 

Not playing in Miami Gardens, Fla., was the final straw for Pettis, who admitted he changed his approach during the offseason. Lynch believes Pettis’ reinvigorated mindset gives him a chance to be successful heading forward. 

“He did what he needed to do physically,” Lynch said. “I think he’s a stronger football player and he’s hungry. That has shown on the field.”

The 49ers' wide receiver group has been hit by the injury bug, which has kept Deebo Samuel and rookie Brandon Aiyuk off the practice field. As a result, Pettis received additional reps during team drills and he has taken advantage of his opportunities. 

“A week into camp, the consistency just clicked and we could see from day one his mentality was different,” Lynch said. “He was doing the things that were asked of him. The guy that we were so excited to draft and add to our team started to show up on that field.” 


During 11-on-11 team drills Pettis has shown some extra fire. He was even seen talking trash to teammate Jaquiski Tartt after catching a touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo in a red zone situation. 

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“He’s got to do it when it counts, but every indication is that he’s going to be a big part of what we’re doing,” Lynch said. “I’m really proud of the young man for the way he’s prepared himself.” 

Pettis also was seen at training camp practicing with the punt return unit along with Aiyuk and Trent Taylor. Pettis still holds the NCAA record for punts returned for a touchdown with nine in his college career.