Dante Pettis – X-Factor

49ers third-year receiver Dante Pettis has been heavily scrutinized after his exciting rookie campaign. He finished 2018 with 467 yards on 27 receptions and 5 touchdowns, but that all seems like a distant memory as we head into the 2020 NFL season. With the loss of Jalen Hurd for the year and Deebo Samuel’s foot injury jeopardizing his chances of being back in time for the start of season, the 49ers desperately need another receiver to step up. Well, look no further than Dante Pettis.

Sophomore slumps are a real thing in the NFL. Players come into the league, find early success and then become complacent in their work ethic or effort levels. I am not saying that was the case with Pettis, but it is highly likely in my opinion something similar occurred. He has all of the physical traits to be able to step on the field and be one of the most talented players out there every snap. Yet when the 49ers played in the Super Bowl in February, Pettis wasn’t even active! This didn’t sit right with him (as it shouldn’t) and he recently spoke about how that was the catalyst for him to start turning his career around. He also shared how he would take Coach Shanahan’s likely harsh criticism of him personally, and it wasn’t until he was able to sit back and reflect that he realized he was only holding him to such high standards because he knew his true potential. Then not only did his actions change, but more importantly his mindset did as well.

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As the 49ers came into camp this year, there was already a noticeable change in Dante’s appearance. Gone were the days of colored, curly locks; exchanged for a short, dark brown hairstyle. This man’s whole demeanor has changed — so much so that even his toughest critic, Coach Shanahan noticed.

49ers receiver Dante Pettis looked like a changed man as he appeared in front of the 49ers media (via a zoom call, of course). Swipe right to see the difference between this year’s and last year’s look. MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT: USATSI

Pettis spoke about how most people are already saying he has no business being on the team, so there aren’t any expectations he has to live up to. As hard as that was to hear as a fan, I truly do think it’s the best mindset he can have heading into this season. A man with nothing left to lose is as dangerous as anyone, and at this point, that is exactly what Dante is.

Let me remind you what the Washington-product is capable of doing, just in case you forgot!

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If the 49ers can get the Dante Pettis that we see in the above clips, then opposing defenses are surely going to have their hands full this season — especially when Deebo Samuel returns from injury.

A man with nothing left to lose is as dangerous as anyone, and at this point, that is exactly what Dante is.

Reports out of training camp are promising and prove Pettis is taking this year seriously. He looks like he is in shape, unlike last year where he immediately put himself in Shanahan’s doghouse. Multiple reporters have noted how Pettis has stood out during training camp, and that is exactly what we all want to hear.

While there is a lot of uncertainty in the world today, two thing is for sure. The 49ers are looking for leaders in their young receiver group, and Dante Pettis will be the ultimate X-factor for the team this season. I think he’s up for the task. Do you? Tweet your responses at me! @49ersHive & @Zachhernan!

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