The 49ers may have something special in Dante Pettis.
The second-round pick out of Washington showed in his NFL debut against the Vikings this past Sunday that he could be a great piece of the 49ers offense. Pettis caught two passes for 61 yards, including one for a touchdown. On the TD, Pettis and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo improvised when the Minnesota pass rush disrupted the play, and Garoppolo found the streaking Pettis at the back of the end zone.
Pettis made some mistakes, including a drop, but the 49ers and Garoppolo were happy with the way Pettis performed in his first regular season game. With No. 1 wideout Marquise Goodwin out with a bruised quad, Pettis was called on to play more snaps.
“For him to come out in his first game like that and have that good of an appearance, obviously there’s some things to clean up like all rookies, but for the most part I was pretty happy with it," said Garoppolo. "He’s a confident guy and he plays like that.”
The analytic website Pro Football Focus gave Pettis a good grade for his debut and singled him out as one of the 49ers’ best performers in the loss to the Vikings.
“Rookie receiver Dante Pettis averaged 11.5 yards after the catch per reception in his team’s Week 1 contest, which is the best marked ever recorded by a rookie receiver with at least 30 snaps in a Week 1 game,” wrote PFF.
Pettis, who returned an NCAA record nine punts for touchdowns in his career at Washington, also had two returns, including one for 14 yards. He could make an impact on special teams this season.
After scoring his touchdown, Pettis even broke out his cat celebration – his routine at Washington after he scored a TD. Pettis, who loves cats, pretends to lick his paw and wash his face. It could be something 49ers fans may get used to seeing often in 2018.
The 49ers will try to get their first victory this Sunday against the Lions at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.