In the lead-up to the NFL draft, Washington wide receiver Dante Pettis took official visits to meet with six teams.
Each team had the same questions, the same concerns, he revealed on The 49ers Insider Podcast.
“I’m not shy about what I like outside of football,” Pettis said. “So a lot of people take that as, ‘Oh, maybe he’s not bought into football all the way.’ So they’ll try to get that out of me. ‘How committed is he to football?’ So I think that’s the biggest thing they’re trying to get. But, I'd say that what I wanted to get across worked.”
It certainly worked for the 49ers. The team traded up to select Pettis in the second round of the draft with the No. 44 overall selection.
The off-field matters that might have concerned some teams had nothing to do with his character. Pettis majored in creative writing, and he likes literature, photography, movies and music. And to some teams, that might have been a red flag.
“I’m very interested in art,” Pettis said. “I feel like that’s really different for a football player. A lot of people have stuff they like to do outside of football, but if it’s something that’s different, it’s like, ‘Hold on, he likes to do what?’
“So that’s what caught their eye, and the fact I’m not afraid to say it, too, I think they wanted to make sure I was all in.”
Pettis had to prove to teams that he was more passionate about football than he was about his outside interests.
“It doesn’t matter what you’re like off the field, it’s what you’re like on the field,” Pettis said. “And the fact that art and all that stuff breeds creativity, I think that helps a ton. You can look at things differently.”
Pettis had a record-setting nine punt returns for touchdowns in his college career. Coach Kyle Shanahan said a benefit to adding Pettis to his 49ers offense is Pettis' versatiity. Pettis is capable of playing every receiver position.
After playing almost exclusively on the outside in his first three college seasons, Pettis lined up in the slot as a senior. He caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven touchdowns. He said his creative side helped him make that transition.
“Playing the slot is a lot more different than playing the other two outside positions because you look at the field differently, you go against different people. You go against a linebacker, a safety, a nickel, whatever,” Pettis said. “And you run a different route tree, so you have to approach the game differently.
“You might have to slow down your routes because you don’t want to run through a window too fast or run into another guy. Being able to look at the game differently helps a lot.”