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.” 

Why 49ers are best fit for Jalen Ramsey trade, according to Louis Riddick

Why 49ers are best fit for Jalen Ramsey trade, according to Louis Riddick

The 49ers intercepted all of two passes last season. They surpassed that total in the season-opener alone after picking off Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston in Week 1, but there's no doubt San Francisco could still use help in its defensive backfield. 

And perhaps the best cornerback in the NFL seems to be available. 

Jaguars star Jalen Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville and requested a trade on Monday. ESPN's Louis Riddick believes the 49ers would be the best fit for Ramsey's services. The former six-year pro himself says Ramsey would be the "cherry on top" for the 49ers. 

"They've taken care of the first two levels of their defense," Riddick said Monday night. "They have pass rushers galore now that can really make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. They have speed at linebacker ... they just need someone in the back end who can play the type of system Robert Saleh, the defensive coordinator, wants to play."

Not only would Ramsey, 24, fit Saleh's scheme, the two already are familiar with each other. Saleh was the Jaguars' linebackers coach in 2016 when Ramsey was a rookie. 

The 49ers seem to have a formidable duo of cornerbacks in Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon, but Ramsey simply is a talent you can't pass up. Witherspoon has improved immensely in his third season, however, Ramsey is already a bona fide superstar. 

[RELATED: Why 49ers should do whatever it takes to get Jags' Ramsey]

"I think that's the team that makes perfect sense," Riddick said. "It could really propel them and catapult them." 

After their first 2-0 start since 2012, adding a talent like Ramsey would only increase the 49ers' chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better

How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better

The 49ers made huge investments in the outside pass rush in the offseason with the trade for Dee Ford and the selection of Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick.

The pass rush has definitely been improved through the first two games of the season. The 49ers have recorded seven sacks and pressure on quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton played some role in four interceptions against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, respectively.

On Sunday, the 49ers sacked Dalton four times in a 41-17 victory. Yet, Ford and Bosa were shut out. Instead, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas registered sacks. It’s that kind of balance that enables the 49ers’ defensive line to keep everyone fresh as they play in waves.

“It’s amazing,” Armstead said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “You play with such good players, there’s no pressure on anybody because you know you’re surrounded by amazing players and we go out there and try to attack and get the job done.”

A year ago, Blair and Cassius Marsh were the 49ers’ top edge rushers. Blair has seen his role reduced with Ford and Bosa coming aboard, but he has embraced his role and feels as if he is a better player because of it.

“I think competition is great for the whole D-line,” Blair said on the podcast. “We evaluate each other and see what we can do better, then we try to surpass each other. So it’s a whole lot of fun.

[RELATED: 49ers rise in power rankings after Week 2]

“Everybody wants to see everybody play good. And we kind of feed other each other. I love being around a culture like that, and I hope it continues as the season goes on.”

In addition to his sack, Blair also recorded a team-high three tackles of losses in Cincinnati as the 49ers opened the season with back-to-back victories on the road. The 49ers return to action Sunday for their regular-season home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.