Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Pettis could still return punts despite increased role within 49ers offense, says Richard Hightower

Aug 2, 2019 at 1:27 PM--

You might remember that wide receiver Dante Pettis first injured his knee last year while returning a punt against the Los Angeles Chargers. That left some wondering why the San Francisco 49ers were continuing to use their second-round pick in those situations and risking injury to a player who is expected to be a significant contributor on offense.

The answer is simple. Pettis was the best player for the role, so that's where head coach Kyle Shanahan wanted him. It didn't matter that he was a high draft pick.

Pettis returned an FBS-record nine punts for touchdowns over his collegiate career while averaging 14.2 yards per return. Four of those nine touchdowns came during his senior year. He had 1,274 return yards in 90 attempts during his time at Washington.

"Kyle's philosophy is put the best player out there that helps us win," special teams coordinator Richard Hightower told reporters on Friday. "I don't know of him to be any other way than wanting to win games. So if Dante is the best (this year), then he'll want Dante back there. If Trent (Taylor) is the best or whoever is the best, D.J. (Reed), Richie (James), we can go down the line.

"Kyle Shanahan is interested in one thing, and that's winning football games. And that goes with players and coaches. A lot of us that have known Kyle a long time (know) the only thing he worries about is football games and winning. That's his number one goal."

RELATED Potential breakout star Dante Pettis the reason 49ers passed on Brown and Beckham, says Schrager

It isn't Hightower's job to worry about what players are doing on offense. He just works with what Shanahan makes available to him. That could still include Pettis this year despite the expectations that the receiver will see an increased role on offense.

Hightower hopes Pettis has more opportunities to serve as a returner. If the second-year receiver does, Hightower also hopes to give him a little more help.

"If we can create more space up front, then you'll see Dante break free just like you saw Trent do the year before," Hightower said.

Whoever lines up back there for punt returns will benefit from the intense offseason competition thus far.

"What I've seen from those guys is a fierce competition right now in terms of those guys going out there and trying to get it," Hightower continued. "We've got Trent. Like I said, we've got Dante. We've got D.J. We've got Richie. We've got a lot of different guys in there, and the fun thing about this is one day one guy does a good job, and then then next day the other guy steps up and does a better job. Then another guy steps up and does a (good) job."

Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

49ers' Brock Purdy: Recovery going well, Week 1 return still the goal

By David Bonilla
May 23

On Tuesday, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said he remains "pretty optimistic" that quarterback Brock Purdy would be available for Week 1 of the 2023 season. The 23-year-old underwent surgery on March 10 to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow. Purdy is hopeful to be on the field with his teammates against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10. "Feeling good and taking it one day at a time," Purdy told reporters after Tuesday's practice, the second of organized team activities (OTAs). The quarterback obviously did not participate. However, the 49ers remain hopeful that Purdy can start some limited throwing

Evaluating every 49ers rookie's role in 2023

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 25

The San Francisco 49ers had a unique draft, making nine selections, but making their first selection in the third round. However, they made three third-round selections, including a trade up to No. 87 for Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown. With a good number of selections, but only starting in the third round, how will the 49ers utilize their rookies in 2023? S Ji'Ayir Brown The 49ers' top selection was Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown, who the team moved up 15 spots to take. Brown was a draft favorite of mine, as he possessed good instincts and ball skills in coverage, as well as his quick close speed. He profiles as a similar athlete to Talanoa Hufanga, and could be a contributor in Year 1, as he's the most

Is Christian McCaffrey the most valuable member of the 49ers offense?

By Rohan Chakravarthi
May 26

The San Francisco 49ers saw significant success in 2023, despite a slow start to the season and multiple midseason quarterback changes due to injury, forcing seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy into action. A crucial part of that formula? Christian McCaffrey, who instantly elevated the 49ers' offense upon his arrival via trade at the midseason mark. McCaffrey changed the outlook of the offense, creating a more efficient offense on the ground, but more importantly, changing the dynamics of the 49ers' passing attack with his presence out of the backfield. Additionally, McCaffrey made the pace of the game easier for both veteran Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Brock Purdy, as the 49ers' offense averaged over 30 points per game since the running back was fully

49ers OTAs: Brock Purdy may start throwing next week, Kyle Shanahan "pretty optimistic" about Week 1 return

By David Bonilla
May 23

On Tuesday, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan provided an update on Brock Purdy. The second-year quarterback underwent surgery on March 10 to repair the tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, an injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game in January. Purdy is recovering well. There have been no setbacks as the quarterback works his way to increasing his workload. "He's doing good," Shanahan said of his quarterback's recovery. "Still staying the same. [He's] on schedule." The 49ers always believed that Purdy would be able to start throwing a football again sometime in early June. That's next week. The good news is that nothing about that timeline has changed. "I think he's allowed to throw sometime


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone