Shanahan explains why Pettis was inactive vs. Dolphins


Dante Pettis' tenure with the 49ers has been a severe disappointment thus far, and it arguably hit its lowest point last Sunday when he was inactive for San Francisco's blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Kevin White was called up from the practice squad to take his place on the active roster.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan arguably has been more critical of Pettis than any other player over the last couple of seasons, and often for good reason. That said, deactivating Pettis for the game against the Dolphins apparently had more to do with needs at other positions than it did any failures on his part, and it's not out of the question Pettis could be active for San Francisco's Week 6 game against the LA Rams.

"Well, yeah, obviously we envisioned him, hope he could be a starter out there and hope he could be a returner for us," Shanahan said of Pettis on Wednesday. "He got some opportunities this year to be a returner for us, but I don't think, on the ones he's gotten, haven't been some great looks or anything. But, last week solely had to do with I was trying to get up some more special teams players for gunner and things like that with some of our corners being down. 

"We've got a few guys who can return punts and kicks on our team, so that's been his main role right now this year and we had to go another way with that. So, I'll still decide that this week, as far as the receiver group and everything. I think that passed a little bit with us taking (Brandon) Aiyuk and with how good Deebo (Samuel) did this year, but if that doesn't get better or if those guys fall off or anything like that, everyone has a chance."

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Currently, in the third season of his four-year rookie contract, Pettis is running out of time to prove he was worthy of the second-round pick the 49ers used to select him in the 2018 NFL Draft. But Shanahan will continue to give him chances to do so.

"I don't make any absolutes on anybody," Shanahan continued. "Everyone is trying to prove themselves each week in practice. I think Dante has taken a number of steps forward this year. I think he's working hard in practice. I know that he was disappointed not to be up last week, but he came out and he still works hard and I expect him to work hard today and try to get back up."

The 49ers are hoping to have more healthy cornerbacks on Sunday against the Rams, and if they do, that likely would increase Pettis' chances of being active. Considering how scarce his opportunities might be, he can't afford to waste them when they come about.

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