49ers

Dante Pettis' progress clear to 49ers teammates, coaches at minicamp

Dante Pettis' progress clear to 49ers teammates, coaches at minicamp

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.” 

[RELATED: Will 49ers trade QBs Beathard or Mullens?]

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.” 

49ers need production from Trent Taylor with Travis Benjamin's opt-out

49ers need production from Trent Taylor with Travis Benjamin's opt-out

The 49ers almost certainly will be in the market for another speedy wide receiver after Travis Benjamin announced his decision Tuesday night to opt out of the upcoming season.

Benjamin’s exit marks the fourth 49ers receiver from the player-organized offseason workouts who will not be on the field when the team’s practices begin.

Deebo Samuel, the team’s top receiver, could be out for the first six weeks of the regular season after undergoing offseason foot surgery to repair a Jones fracture. Slot receiver Richie James is also on the non-football injury list due to a fractured wrist.

The 49ers recently waived another slot receiver, former Notre Dame standout Chris Finke, who failed a physical due to a hamstring injury.

While the 49ers could bring in another wide receiver for training camp, they certainly will expect one of their own to soften the blow of Benjamin's absence.

Benjamin had a history with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan from when they were together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. When asked after his signing why he is such a good fit for the offense, Benjamin answered, “Speed. Kyle loves speed.”

Benjamin, like James and Finke, is a slot receiver and a strong option as a punt returner.

Now, it’s more important than ever that Trent Taylor remains healthy and in a contributing role.

Benjamin’s spot on the 49ers’ roster for 2020 was not guaranteed after signing a one-year contract with the 49ers. He said he knew his job was to come in to compete for a job. He caught just 18 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown over 17 games in the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.

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

After 54 players around the league already had chosen through Tuesday to opt out of the season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, Benjamin made his announcement. He wrote in a statement that he made the decision “after much consideration and discussion” with his family.

Benjamin will remain under contract to the 49ers for the 2021 season with a salary cap figure of $1.05 million. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Taylor are scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season.

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Benjamin, 30, an eight-year NFL veteran, came to the 49ers as an insurance policy. Taylor, if healthy, always wa considered the 49ers’ top option at slot receiver.

The problem is that Taylor has not been healthy since his rookie season in 2017. Taylor caught the same number of passes (43) as George Kittle during their rookie seasons. Taylor had 430 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

He also was productive as a punt returner with a 9.4-yard average on 30 returns.

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

NFL rumors: 49ers expected to sign Dion Jordan for added D-line depth

It appears the 49ers will be adding to their defensive line.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that the 49ers are expected to sign defensive end Dion Jordan. 

The 49ers hosted the former No. 3 overall draft pick Tuesday, and clearly liked what they saw. Jordan, 30, recorded two sacks last season in seven games with the Raiders.

Jordan hasn't lived up to his draft status since the Miami Dolphins selected him in 2013. The former Oregon Duck also has dealt with a long list of off-field issues. 

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

He was reinstated by the NFL last November after serving a 10-game suspension for Adderall. He also missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and has been suspended several other times as well. 

Between the Dolphins, Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, Jordan has 10.5 career sacks over 50 games.

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The 49ers' defensive line is a strength, but their pass rush on the outside actually is thin. Nick Bosa is a star, and the same goes for Dee Ford when healthy. Arik Armstead plays defensive end in base situations, though he is more effective working inside as a nickel pass-rusher. And then there's Ronald Blair, who is working back from a torn ACL.

Aside from that group, the 49ers could use some help on the outside. Jordan always has been skilled, and should be worth a gamble for the reigning NFC champions.