Fantasy football projection has 49ers' Dante Pettis breaking out in 2019

Fantasy football projection has 49ers' Dante Pettis breaking out in 2019

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has had high expectations for Dante Pettis from the beginning -- even before he was drafted by the team in 2018. And it appears a fantasy expert has the same amount of faith in Pettis.

ESPN fantasy expert Matt Bowen projects the wide receiver to have a breakout season entering his second year in the NFL.

"It's a small sample size from Pettis' rookie season, but based on his 17.3 yards per catch (fourth overall in the NFL) and the five-week run at the end of the 2018 season in a heavy, play-pass system under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers wide receiver could have the highest ceiling of this group," Bowen wrote.

Bowens also credited Pettis' work with then-quarterback Nick Mullens during Weeks 12-16 last season when the 23-year-old caught 20-of-31 targets for 359 yards, four touchdowns and had an average of 7.49 yards after the catch

"And in Weeks 12-14, Pettis was WR6 in fantasy, outscoring both Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. Again, this is a small sample size we are talking about, but of the wide receivers with at least 40 targets in 2018, Pettis was the only player who averaged 10 air yards per target and seven yards after the catch. Which brings us back to Shanny's system."

Last year, the quarterback situation became tricky when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. But this time around, if all works out as planned, San Francisco will have a full season of Jimmy G which means just as much success for Pettis.

[RELATED: How Shanahan's tough-love talk with Pettis went

"With a healthy Garoppolo entering the season, and the route-running of Pettis to create separation on crossers/over routes, plus the deep out in the 49ers' three-level flood concepts, the windows will be there," Bowen writes. "And that also leads to numbers after the catch when the 49ers match up to zone-heavy defenses in both single-high and split-safety looks."

"I think Pettis could have a breakout season, pushing his way into lineups in all scoring formats as a WR2."

The pass catcher also heads into the season with a more clear mindset. He admitted to being "so lost last year" barely remembering the beginning of the season with all of the quarterbacks he was working with. But from what he's seen of Jimmy G so far, he's confident the two will make some plays and do some damage.

49ers UDFAs Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty making most of odd offseason

49ers UDFAs Salvon Ahmed, JaMycal Hasty making most of odd offseason

Salvon Ahmed and JaMycal Hasty were always going to face an uphill battle to make the 49ers' roster, but the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made the hill a little steeper.

Under normal circumstances, the 49ers' undrafted free agents would have a chance to make a good first impression on the field at rookie minicamp. That's how Matt Breida won his roster spot in 2017. But instead, Hasty and Ahmed spend four hours on Zoom meetings with their position group and coaches, trying to learn everything about the 49ers' offense. The first two hours are spent with the entire group, while the final two hours are just Ahmed, Hasty and undrafted fullback Josh Hokit with assistant coach Bobby Turner.

While it's been unusual, the rookies think it's been a productive start to their NFL careers.

“You don’t have to worry about practices, you don’t have to worry about anything but that one, four-hour window to meet,” Hasty told The Athletic's Matt Barrows. “So there are a lot of things you can cover. There’s a ton of information to learn and pick up on. I mean, the rookies help each other out, the vets bring us along. It’s been a great experience, man.”

The 49ers have built a strong culture and that plays a big role in helping new blood catch up to the rest of the group.

“I think it’s showing what it’d be like even if we were there,” Ahmed told The Athletic. “And I think the culture is strong enough to show through our Zoom meetings. I think how we’re acting now is definitely how everyone would act if we were at the facility.”

The 49ers are likely to carry five running backs in total between the active roster and practice squad. Pencil in Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman for two of those spots. Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson, Ahmed and Hasty will have to battle for the final three spots, with McKinnon and Wilson likely having a leg up.

The final roster spot likely will come down to a position battle between Ahmed and Hasty.

Ahmed, 5-foot-11, 197-pounds, never became the game-breaking back he was projected to be when he committed to Washington out of high school. He has quick feet and can be explosive, but he needs to work on his vision and decisiveness to stick in the NFL.

As for Hasty, the Baylor product was misused during his time in Waco, Texas. He's an elite athlete who profiles as a third-down back who can uncover out of the backfield and make plays in the passing game. He's a tough, hard-nosed back who has the explosiveness to fit well in the 49ers' zone-rushing scheme. He's an electric, change-of-pace back who has the potential to morph into a dynamic weapon for coach Kyle Shanahan.

[RELATED: Nine 49ers facing make-or-break season in 2020]

The 49ers might be able to hold a full-squad minicamp in June if Governor Gavin Newsom allows it. That will be the first time Ahmed and Hasty will take the field as 49ers. They must make the most of every opportunity in order to make the roster.

They've already been doing that in the Zoom classroom. The field world comes next.

NFL Network's Adam Rank goes all-in on 49ers after bad 2019 prediction

NFL Network's Adam Rank goes all-in on 49ers after bad 2019 prediction

Not many would have expected the success the 49ers gave us last season. Well, one guy in particular really didn't expect it.

NFL Network analyst Adam Rank might be the main person to eat his words following his preseason prediction that the 49ers would go 3-13 went viral. But he has redeemed himself. 

Kyle Shanahan's team obviously was more successful than that, going 13-3 in the regular season and leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV before collapsing against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rank heard it all from 49ers fans, even admitting he was an idiot for saying such a thing

Rank wrote Tuesday on NFL.com that not only are the 49ers becoming one of the league’s “model organizations,” but also that walking away from Miami without a ring didn’t mean they were out of the fight -- not even a little bit.

The 49ers have everything going for them in 2020 for another deep run. They'll bring back tight end George Kittle, who looks to be the highest-paid at the position in NFL history. Jimmy Garoppolo has a Super Bowl appearance as a starter under his belt. Nick Bosa looks to have another successful season and we get to see the freakishly athletic ability of rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

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

That’s just what’s happening on the field.

Rank praised the front office, led by general manager John Lynch, for part of that success as well. 

Rank knows that any team could face a post-championship hangover that not even the strongest of Gatorade could cure. Their expectations are high, but this team is the real deal -- and naturally, they’ll have a target on their backs. But Rank is done doubting -- but said he understands if people don’t believe him.

[RELATED: Richard Sherman wants 49ers detractors to keep doubting them]

“I know me praising the 49ers will make the fans uneasy,” Rank told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “Like whenever Ric Flair would cozy up to Sting. And as much as you'd like me to discredit them again, we don't have to resort to such tricks because this is a very good team. Though I don't blame you if you don't trust me.”

He said it, he’s a believer. Now, let’s give the guy a break.