Dante Pettis is listed as a starter on the 49ers depth chart. But, the team is still trying to figure out his role.
The 23-year-old wide receiver was surprisingly on the field late in the fourth quarter of San Francisco’s 27-17 preseason win over the Chiefs on Saturday. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was asked about that decision during a press conference one day later.
“I believe he needed to be (out there),” Shanahan told reporters. “He’s still trying to earn a role on this team and he’s still trying to show us what he’s capable of doing consistently.”
The 49ers selected Pettis out of Washington in the second round of the 2018 draft. He caught 27 passes for 467 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie last season.
“When we get Pettis playing up to his potential, we’ve got a number of guys on our team who could take us completely to another level,” Shanahan said. “A lot of that has to do with guys getting healthy and also guys playing to their potential. What I’m excited (about) is I can say that about a lot of guys on our team.”
Pettis has been targeted seven times so far in the preseason, catching three passes for 36 yards in three appearances.
“I finally feel like I’m now getting back to how I should be playing — explosive and consistent,” Pettis told NBC Sports Bay Area last week. “I got off to kind of a slow start, but I feel like I’m picking it up.”
Rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd could push Pettis for playing time while the team also has Marquise Goodwin on its roster.
The 49ers have one preseason matchup remaining before they face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay in Week 1 action Sept. 8.