After taking a hard fall at the end of the Jim Harbaugh era, the San Francisco 49ers finally appear to be on the right track. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has remade the offense with Jimmy Garoppolo and hopefully brought in a receiving weapon with the addition of Washington’s Dante Pettis with the 44th overall pick.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 28, 2018
An All-American in 2017, Pettis made his mark as both a receiver and a return man. However, it was his returning ability that earned him the honor. As a receiver, it will be difficult to rely on consistent production for at least his first season.
Reasons to Get Excited
Garoppolo has clearly changed attitudes in San Francisco. The 49ers were 1-10 when he made his first start. They finished 6-10 and now believe they can challenge for the NFC West title.
Garoppolo was the ninth-best fantasy quarterback in those final five games even though he barely had any time to learn the offense. With a full offseason under his belt, the offense could be even better.
Lack of Playmakers
There are some decent performers in San Francisco’s wide receiver corps, like Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Aldrick Robinson. None have proven to be consistent performers other than Garçon, and he’s entering his 11th season and coming off a neck injury that cost him half of 2017. It’s not inconceivable to think Pettis could break into the starting lineup.
At the moment, it looks like most of Pettis’ snaps will come in the slot. Scouts praised his route-running and quickness, meaning he could be on the receiving end of some short targets over the middle. That would make him FLEX-worthy in PPR leagues if Garoppolo continues to put up QB1 numbers.
Reasons to Pump the Brakes
Crowded Depth Chart
Though the wide receivers in front of Pettis have question marks, there are still quite a few of them. It would not be a surprise to see Garçon, Goodwin and Taylor getting most of the snaps while Pettis focuses on return duties. He’ll surely see at least a few snaps per game at receiver, but not enough to be worth considering unless he beats out Taylor.
Pettis’ receiving numbers at Washington were not exactly eye-catching. He had his best season in 2016 when he caught 53 passes for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns. That’s not bad, though he did benefit from 2017 first-round pick John Ross drawing plenty of attention away from him.
In his final season, he caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven touchdowns. Again, not bad, but nothing to make one think he’ll immediately tear up the NFL. He was 85th in the FBS in receiving yards.
He also couldn’t be counted on week-to-week as a junior, when he failed to reach 40 yards in half of his games.
Pettis’ return talent and penchant for big games make him an ideal late-round pick in best-ball leagues. Other than that, it’s best to stay away. He’s Garoppolo’s third option at best and, even though Garoppolo was the ninth-best fantasy quarterback over the final five games of the season, only one of his receivers (Goodwin) cracked the top 45 in PPR scoring over that stretch. There’s not much here other than the big-game potential, and those are way too inconsistent to count on.
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