• Jay Moore

Film Room: Where WR Dante Pettis Fits Into the 49ers Offense

In the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, 49ers general manager John Lynch decided to trade up to pick 44 to take 6-foot-1, 186-pound receiver out of Washington, Dante Pettis. The first thing that was said about Pettis on the TV broadcast was that he was just a “slot guy.” This left 49er fans scratching their collective heads. Don’t they have a good slot receiver in Trent Taylor?

Pettis is more than just a “slot guy,” and with Kyle Shanahan designing plays he can be a deep threat, a slot guy, a chain mover, and a game breaker. I will break down the many ways that Kyle Shanahan will use his new receiver.

Pettis catches a quick slant for a first down; this is the type of catch that Kyle Shanahan will expect his receivers to catch 10 out of 10 times, he does so here moving the chains for his team. This is a route that Shanahan will use a lot with his slot receiver with great success.

This is an example of how Shanahan could use Pettis’s quickness. This is the type of route combination that he throws at teams constantly, causing defensive backs to get confused about their assignments. Pettis can use his quickness to get to the open area of the field, make the simple catch and get the first down.

Dante Pettis shows off his speed on this big play. He is running the deep post and, past the defensive back, and hauling in the well-thrown ball. Pettis shows off his top-end speed, which is most likely the trait that drew Kyle Shanahan to him as a prospect. His ability to run past the defender and track the ball is something that any top-end receiver in the NFL needs to do. Now how will Kyle Shanahan use that ability on Sundays?

This is a long TD by the 49ers in the 2017 preseason on what’s called the Yankee concept. If you’ve ever listened to Schemecast with me and Rich Madrid, you’ve heard us talk about this concept on multiple occasions. Shanahan will use this play once or twice in just about every game. The Yankee concept is a two wide receiver deep route combination, with the underneath receiver running a deep crossing route, and the other running a deep post. Now, you’re Kyle Shanahan and your offense has beaten teams with this route concept a few games in a row, and you’re playing the Tennessee Titans, and need a big play. What to do next?

Use that speed that you drafted in the second round to hold the safety, clear out the middle on the field, and hit a big play to your other talented receivers. This type of speed has a trickledown effect to all the other skill position players on the field. It also gives the best game-planning offensive mind in football another skill position player to use to exploit opposing defenses and keep defensive coordinators up at night.

This is a well-run route by Pettis, who makes a great catch outside the numbers. Now that we have established his ability to make catches in the slot and run the deep routes that open up the middle of the field, here is his ability to turn towards the sideline and make the tough catch on a dig or a post route. This forces the defensive back to cover 180 degrees; he has to worry about getting beat deep, towards the middle of the field, or towards the sideline.

Not only can offenses use speed to beat a defense deep, it can also be used in the run game. Pettis uses his speed to get around the edge of the defense and tries to follow his blocker (first round pick Mike McGlinchey will make this block for the 49ers) and gets to the edge for a nice gain. Shanahan used receiver Marquise Goodwin on multiple occasions on this same play in 2017. Great play to have in

your playbook right? Shanahan takes it a step further.

The orbit return swing pass resulted in a touchdown in week 17 against the LA Rams. Defenses have seen the sweep work in Shanahan’s offense before and are looking for it. Goodwin runs the orbit swing, Jimmy Garoppolo holds the defense long enough to get the pass off to Goodwin for the touchdown. This play worked so well, because the sweep worked for the 49ers offense in the past.

Not only is Pettis a weapon on offense, he also adds an explosive element to special teams. Making an impact as a rookie receiver in a Shanahan coached offense can be difficult due to its complexity. As Pettis learns the playbook and gets acquainted to his undefeated quarterback, he can make a huge impact on special teams. Flipping field position on a punt or scoring a momentum-swinging touchdown on a kick off can be just as important as a big play on offense.

Dante Pettis may be just a “slot guy” in the eyes of some in the media, but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan sees him as a lot more than that. Pettis will be another weapon at Jimmy Garoppolo’s disposal for the 2018 season. Look for number 18 to have a big second half to the 2018 NFL season.