© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Since being drafted in the second round a year ago, Dante Pettis has been one of the most highly criticized members of the San Francisco 49ers. That even included head coach Kyle Shanahan, who said Pettis, “… still trying to earn a role on this team. 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,” on August 25.
Pettis caught the game-winning touchdown in the 49ers’ 24-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday and led all receivers (not including George Kittle) with four catches. His improvement has been evident to Shanahan, who, despite that early criticism, is one of his greatest supporters. Shanahan discussed his appreciation of Pettis’ improved work on KNBR on Tuesday on the Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks show.
“I’ve been real excited with Dante the last few weeks,” Shanahan said. “Everyone knows that I put a little bit of pressure on him in training camp. It wasn’t going exactly how my expectations were, which are extremely high. It’s more of a credit to Dante, because I just believe in him a lot and he wasn’t totally there, where I wanted him to be in training camp and we went a little bit hard on him. He’s kind of assuring me that I should do that more because of the way he’s been these last few weeks. He really took the challenge, I think he’s been a little different in the weight room.”
What hadn’t been revealed is that Pettis had been, and apparently still is, nursing a pectoral injury that was previously undisclosed (Pettis had a noted groin issue, but the pectoral injury was new information).
“He had an injury in training camp where he hurt his pec that made it tough to lift his upper body, which he’s still coming back from,” Shanahan said. “My biggest thing with him is his legs. I think the way he’s attacked that weight room and got his leg strength back and the way he’s been working on the practice field; it hasn’t just been this week. It’s been really these last few weeks and he’s gotten better each week. Now I feel he’s at where he left off last year. I think the ceiling is high for that guy, man. He can get a lot better, and we need him to.”
Amongst other topics, including the biggest film nerds on the team, Shanahan mentioned that he follows tape of plenty of other coaches. There was one big name he singled out though.
“I watch other people every week,” Shanahan said. “A guy like [New England Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick… that’s a team I watch almost every Monday.”
To listen to the full interview, in which Shanahan talks about Jimmy Garoppolo’s work ethic in film review, click below.