SANTA CLARA — Dante Pettis turned the right heads at 49ers minicamp last week.
Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens, as well as coach Kyle Shanahan, all noticed marked improvement in the receiver ahead of his second NFL season.
Garoppolo has seen a physical transformation from Pettis. The QB thinks believes that Pettis' added muscle weight will help the receiver on the field.
“Dante’s body is maturing,” Garoppolo said. “He’s coming out of breaks with power, he has speed. It doesn’t look like he’s moving very fast but really is. It’s a weird thing for a quarterback to get used to. He’s different than most guys running.”
Garoppolo detailed how visually different Pettis’ speed is when you compare him to what Marquise Goodwin does.
Those differences even extend to teammate -- and Olympic hopeful -- Marquise Goodwin. Garoppolo said that requires him to adjust when he's targeting Pettis.
“Where Marquise looks like he’s running really fast, and he is running really fast, where with Dante it’s different,” Garoppolo said. “Being able to get on the same page with him, I think these last few weeks have been very important.
“It’s just different. It’s hard to describe unless you’re seeing it, but you’re trying to throw it while he’s coming out of a break, but he comes out of break differently than most guys. It’s so hard on the defense that you really just know he’s going to get open, you just don’t want to miss him.”
Pettis' physical change was clear to Shanahan, too. But Shanahan has also noticed improvements on the mental side, and said he thinks Pettis' hunger to improve is clear.
“When I saw him the first week he got back to see the size that he had put on, not that he’s going to be real noticeably different to everyone, but he worked while he was gone,” Shanahan said. “He worked while he was away. He tried to get bigger.
“He worked more at his routes and he came here with the idea of ‘Hey, I’m not just coming here to get better back in shape, I’m coming here to get better.’”
Pettis has said he is more comfortable in the 49ers' offense with a year of experience, and that was clear to Mullens.
“Yeah you can tell,” Mullens said. “You know, Dante has always had the physical talent of being so shaky, making guys miss and routing guys up. Now he doesn’t have to think about the play, he can go naturally do that.
“So things are coming very natural for him he’s making a lot of plays out there and it’s great to see. It’s been awesome to see him develop.”
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Pettis isn't hesitating, and his confidence is clear. When you combine that with his physical and mental development, the young receiver seems ready to have a bigger role in his second NFL season.
“He’s making a lot of plays, being very consistent, and Dante can set the speed," Mullens said. "I think you guys have been able to see that and so he’s making a lot of plays and he’s a great teammate.”