Dante Pettis

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

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USATSI

Watch 49ers WR Dante Pettis crush BP homers in Minute Maid Park

The 49ers arrived in Houston on Tuesday, where they will hold joint practices with the Texans on Wednesday and Thursday. On Sunday, the two teams will play a preseason game.

With no team activities schedule on Tuesday, rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis took full advantage of the free time. His father is Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, so the younger Pettis donned Astros gear and took batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

In video posted by Fox 26's Mark Berman, Pettis deposited a few balls into the Crawford Box.

Check out the video here:

49ers rookie receiver Dante Pettis hard to miss at training camp

49ers rookie receiver Dante Pettis hard to miss at training camp

SANTA CLARA -- Whether his helmet was on or off, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis was easy to spot on the sixth day of training camp.

The rookie's hair, dyed blue, was certainly unique among his new teammates. It even managed to make his head coach feel old in the process. 

"I still consider myself somewhat young, but that's definitely the sign of difference in generations," 38-year-old head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after practice on Wednesday. "[In] my age, we didn't roll like that. Now, I feel like it's kind of cool."

Pettis' game may have been more apparent than his hair. The 22-year-old, San Francisco's second-round pick in April's draft, flashed his playmaking ability during the 1-on-1 and 11-on-11 portions of Wednesday's practice. 

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo targeted Pettis in each of the last three plays of practice. The University of Washington product converted a first down on the first, keeping his feet inbounds on a 20-yard comeback route along the sideline to his left.

Former college rival Ahkello Witherspoon, who played at Colorado and against Pettis in the 2016 Pac-12 title game, broke up the pass intended for Pettis on the very next play. The rookie got revenge to finish off the day, however, and burned Witherspoon for an untouched, 40-yard touchdown reception to close out the day.  

Pettis has the ability to make defenders miss in space, as a record-setting nine career punt return touchdowns in college demonstrated. His walk-off touchdown showed he can do it at the line of scrimmage, too. 

"You can make guys miss with the ball in your hand, [then] you should be able to do that in routes, too," Shanahan said. "Combine that with the speed, and his hands, and his intelligence... you feel pretty confident he's going to continue to get better." 

Shanahan said that Pettis, like all first-year players, is still "going through some of his rookie bumps." He's still eight days away from his preseason debut, and continues to compete with second-year receiver Trent Taylor for reps on offense and in the return game. 

Yet, Pettis has made a clear impression on Shanahan and his teammates. 

"I think he's going to be a great receiver in this league," Beathard said. "He's got great hands. He'll come back to balls and make big-time catches. The last few days especially, he's made great strides as this camp has gone on." 

49ers camp preview: Top battle among pass catchers should be in the slot

49ers camp preview: Top battle among pass catchers should be in the slot

Jimmy Garoppolo averaged more than 300 yards passing in his five starts last season. And he did it without a recognized No. 1 receiver.

Clearly, the 49ers feel good about their group of pass-catchers. The club did not pursue a wide receiver or tight end during free agency. In the draft, the 49ers added a versatile receiver Dante Pettis in the second round. He figures to be a backup at all three spots.

Who’s Here

Wide receivers – Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Aldrick Robinson, Richie James, Aaron Burbridge, Victor Bolden, Max McCaffrey, Steven Dunbar
Tight ends – George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Cole Hikutini, Cole Wick, Ross Dwelley

Best Of The Bunch

Garçon, with his ability to work the underneath and intermediate routes, appears to be a nice fit for Garoppolo’s quick release and accuracy. Garçon was on pace for a 1,000-yard season last season before sustaining a neck injury that wiped out the second half of the season. Garçon turns 32 on Aug. 8, but he still has something left to offer with his savvy route-running and reliability on third downs.

Top Camp Battle

Pettis vs. Taylor. The 49ers invested the No. 44 overall pick in Pettis because they envision him as a player who can contribute at all three receiver positions. However, his best fit appears to be as a slot receiver. Taylor, who had a fine rookie season, has unique ability to get open quickly. These two will not only compete for playing time on offense, but they also return punts. Taylor was steady in that role last season, while Pettis distinguished himself at Washington with a college football record of nine career punt returns for touchdowns. Taylor is expected to be cleared early in camp after undergoing what was described as a minor back procedure in the offseason.

Long Shot

It might be easy to forget about Burbridge, who spent last season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. But with a crowded group of wide receivers, Burbridge can distinguish himself with his play on special teams. He appeared in all 16 games as a rookie in 2016 and caught seven passes for 88 yards. If he makes the 53-man roster, his special-teams ability would assure him of being among the 46 players to suit up for games.

Overview

The 49ers figure to use a tight-ends-by-committee approach with Kittle and Celek. Both are solid run-blockers. Kittle has better speed to get down the field and create mismatches. Despite being plagued by injuries as a rookie, Kittle still managed 43 receptions for 515 yards and two TDs. The 49ers have a balanced group of wide receivers, too. Goodwin, coming off his breakout season, is the team’s top deep threat. He led the team with 962 yards receiving. There are a lot of options in the passing game to go along with Goodwin, Garçon, Taylor and Pettis. Bourne, Robinson, James and Burbridge will be competing for their roles. Bolden faces an uphill climb, as he serves a season-opening four-game suspension for violating league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.