Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Pettis’ interests outside of football led NFL teams to question is commitment

May 15, 2018 at 9:30 AM--

San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis' interests extend further than football. Art, photography, movies, and reading are just a sample of those interests. Pettis pushes his Instagram page, which is filled with photographs he has taken. During his time at Washington, he could be seen roaming around the campus with a camera in hand, trying to find a view that spoke to him.

It was those interests that gave NFL teams pause leading to last month's draft.

"I'm very interested in art," Pettis told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area during the 49ers Insider Podcast. "I feel like that's really different for a football player. A lot of people have stuff they like to do outside of football, but if it's something that's kind of different, it's like, 'Hold on, he likes to do what?' I think that's what caught their eye, and the fact that I'm not afraid to say it too. They just wanted to make sure that I was all in."

Pettis had to assure teams that he was committed to a career in the NFL. Interested teams asked him about it during pre-draft interviews.

"I'm not shy about what I like outside of football," he said. "A lot of people take that as, 'Oh, maybe he's not bought into football all the way.' They'll try to kind of get that out of me. Like, 'How committed is he to football?' All that. So I think that's kind of the biggest thing that they're trying to get. I would say that what I wanted to get across works."

Then there were sports. Like with Pettis' other interests, he did not limit himself to just one. He played football, baseball, basketball, and track while growing up.

Dante is the son of former Major League Baseball center fielder and current Houston Astros third base coach Gary Pettis, who was a five-time Gold Glove Award winner in his playing days. Dante was even pretty good at baseball. His father felt he could have excelled in the sport if he had pursued it. Dante always knew, however, that football was the sport for him.

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"I think the thing that just kind of drew me to it is I just had so much fun playing the game," Pettis said. "It wasn't something that was like, 'Oh, I'm the best at football. I just need to stick to this.' It was just like, there's something different about football than there is about every other sport, and I just kind of gravitated towards it because, like I said, I had the most fun doing it."

Pettis heard from his agent that the 49ers were interested in drafting him if he was still available at the No. 74 overall pick, which was right around where he figured he would get selected. What he didn't figure is that the 49ers were so interested that they would trade that selection and the No. 59 overall to move up to No. 44 to select Pettis. He is a versatile player who head coach Kyle Shanahan feels he can utilize in several ways down the road.

"We think Pettis does a little bit of everything," Shanahan said after the 49ers selected the receiver. "I think we can use him sometimes similar to how we use Marquise (Goodwin) if need be. I think we can use him inside similar to how we use Trent (Taylor) if need be. I think he has the hands and toughness; we can use him similar to Pierre (Garçon). In the meantime, I think he's going to be a very good punt returner too."

You can listen to the entire interview with Pettis on the 49ers Insider Podcast below.

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