#5 Dante Pettis
It took a while for Pettis to get going, after catching three passes for almost 100 yards and a touchdown throughout his first five quarters as a pro. Following that he banged up his knee and wasn’t really used until after the 49ers bye in week 11. In the four games after that when he was on the field for over 80 percent of all of them, Pettis caught 17 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
Unfortunately, he suffered a sprained MCL in week 16, but if he can stay healthy going forward, he could make a big impact for the Niners. The former Washington Husky is a silky smooth route-runner, who can separate by leaning his body one way and then breaking the other, plus the elite top-end speed to fly by defenders. I also like what he does when the scramble drill breaks out, uncovering late and making himself available.
When Kyle Shanahan had him at his disposal, Pettis was used as a threat on jet and fly sweeps to keep defenders occupied and open up more room to run. Moreover, with his speed, he is also great at clearing out space with post and go-routes for other receivers to catch the ball underneath. With a full offseason to get healthy and get deeper into the playbook, the second-year wideout could make a big jump in 2019 as Jimmy Garoppolo returns as well.
John Lynch and the front office have made it a priority to add to the receiving corp, spending their second and third round draft picks on South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel and Baylor’s Jalen Hurd in addition to having already signed Jordan Matthews and running back Tevin Coleman, who caught 31 passes as an RB2 in his second year in the league when Shanahan was the OC in Atlanta.
I’m not quite sure how San Francisco will utilize their receivers, as Samuel might start at Z, even though he did his best work in the slot, but I think you can pencil Pettis in at X and for 1000 yards through the air. Plus, he could be a big weapon in the return game, having set the Pac-12 record with nine punt return touchdowns.