Top returners in college football join 49ers competition

Top returners in college football join 49ers competition

SANTA CLARA -- Trent Taylor, who ranked ninth in the NFL in punt returns last season as a 49ers rookie, will be challenged by the two best coming out of the college ranks.

Washington receiver Dante Pettis, a second-round draft pick of the 49ers, ranked No. 1 in college football with a 20.4-yard average. Cornerback D.J. Reed, whom the 49ers selected in the fifth round, was second at 14.9.

On Friday morning at the 49ers’ rookie minicamp they were fielding punts along with several other unsuspecting newcomers during the team’s walk-through practice.

“We were both laughing because people were like, ‘You guys return kicks?’ ” Reed said. “And we were like, ‘A little bit.’ ”

Pettis is college football’s all-time record holder with nine career punt returns for touchdowns. In Reed’s final season at Kansas State, he returned one punt and one kickoff for touchdowns.

“I felt we do different things,” Reed said. “He’s very elusive with the ball, and so am I. But I feel how I return is a little different.

“For me, I make a lot of guys miss. I’m very twitchy, very jukey. But, then again, I also have power and can run through people. He has a great asset to his game. He’s very elusive.”

Taylor, the 49ers’ starting slot receiver, had a strong rookie season on special teams with a 9.4-yard average on punt returns. Pettis said he is more concerned about establishing himself on offense.

“I kind of view myself as a receiver and not really a punt returner,” Pettis said. “Everything I aim for is receiver-wise and not really punt returner.”

Yet, there is not escaping the fact the 49ers view Pettis as a four-down player. He is capable of playing each of the wide receiver positions, as well as being a game-changer as a return man.

“My best attribute is my decision making and aggressiveness,” Pettis replied. “I try to catch everything. It will be a little bit of a transition. I will not be able to just run around people and I have to trust my blocking even more.”

Travis Scott, Colin Kaepernick reportedly spoke about Super Bowl halftime show


Travis Scott, Colin Kaepernick reportedly spoke about Super Bowl halftime show

Travis Scott ultimately agreed to perform at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show on Feb. 3, but he reportedly spoke with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick beforehand.

The two "had at least one phone conversation" before Scott took the gig, Variety's Jem Aswad reported Tuesday. Although "the two did not necessarily agree, they emerged from the conversation with mutual respect and understanding," a source close to Scott told Aswad.

Scott's presence at the show was first reported last month, but not confirmed until he announced he and the NFL would donate $500,000 to Dream Corps, a nonprofit focused on social justice initiatives. That was not before Scott received intense criticism on social media and elsewhere, largely because of the NFL's treatment of Kaepernick.

Kaepernick sat, then kneeled, during the playing of the national anthem before games during the 2016 season to protest racial inequality and social injustice. He has not played in a professional football game since Jan. 1, 2017, and has remained unsigned by a team since officially opting out of his contract with the 49ers on March 3 that year. The 31-year-old ultimately filed a collusion grievance against the league, and his hearing reportedly is scheduled for early this year.

Rihanna reportedly turned down and cited Kaepernick's absence from the league, and Cardi B reportedly did the same. Jay-Z tried to convince Scott not to perform, and Scott himself would not until the NFL agreed to donate to Dream Corps, Aswad reported, citing sources. Neither Scott nor Kaepernick commented on Variety's report.

49ers' DeForest Buckner named Fletcher Cox's Pro Bowl injury replacement


49ers' DeForest Buckner named Fletcher Cox's Pro Bowl injury replacement

Move over, Mickey Mouse. DeForest Buckner is headed to Orlando. 

The 49ers defensive lineman will play in his first career Pro Bowl on Jan. 27, as the 24-year-old was named as an injury replacement for Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

Buckner broke out in a big way in his third NFL season. The Oregon product finished 2018 with a career-high 12 sacks, tying for the 14th most in the league. He also had the second-most quarterback pressures at his position, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Named an alternate when the NFL announced Pro Bowl rosters in December, Buckner arguably was one of the biggest snubs from the main roster. After Tuesday's news, he won't need to worry about that for much longer.