49ers

Why 49ers' wide receivers could significantly change for 2020 season

49ers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis did not see the field during the 49ers' final games of the 2019 season, which could be an indication of what is to come for the wide receiver group. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan spent most of the season using a rotation with the receivers, but Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne emerged as the primary targets during the playoffs.

In 2017, Goodwin had a breakout campaign in his first season with San Francisco, nearly hitting the 1,000-yard receiving mark (962). Pettis had a promising 2018 rookie season with an average of 17.3 yards per reception, catching 60 percent of his targets. 

Both Goodwin and Pettis saw a significant drop off in production in 2019. Several factors are in play regarding their futures.  

The wide receiver class in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft could be one of the deepest and most talented groups the league has ever seen, which might influence what general manager John Lynch and his staff will do come April 23-25. 

The 49ers also hope to see both Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd return to the line up after they missed the entire 2019 season with injuries. Shanahan and Lynch will need to make some tough decisions in the near future. 

San Francisco would prefer to gain some trade value for Goodwin, as opposed to releasing the receiver whose speed can take the top off a defense. 

“We don’t want to release Marquise,” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “He’s too valuable. I know he fell out of the rotation last year, then he had an injury that he wanted to go on IR so he could go get it cleaned up, and I think it is right now.

 

“But Quise is a guy who can play in this league and if he’s on our team, he is going to be competing with that group. And if not, I feel pretty confident that another team would want him.”

Similar to the 49ers' group of running backs, both Lynch and Shanahan would like to “keep the band together,” but they know they can’t keep everyone. Like everything, the roster must change. 

“We like our group, I think we like the core of our group,” Lynch said. “The draft class is incredibly strong, this is my fourth combine and it’s as good as I’ve ever seen. The depth of it, the top-end players, it’s a really good class.” 

[RELATED: 49ers should watch these five receivers during the combine]

Pettis has two remaining seasons on his four-year rookie contract and Shanahan is looking for an increased sense of urgency that was lacking in the receiver's sophomore year. He is hoping to see a significant difference in Pettis when the offseason program begins in April. 

“I just want to see when he comes back that while he has been away, he has been on a mission,” Shanahan said. “I think that’s what some guys go through. I think that Dante did that more his rookie year trying to make the league and stuff. I think he took a documented step back in his second year, which I’ve been around a lot of players who have done that.” 

Shanahan and Lynch would both like to see Sanders return for the 2020 season, but it's questionable if they'll be able to afford him with big extensions looming for George Kittle and DeForest Buckner.