UW WR Dante Pettis taken 44th overall by San Francisco 49ers
Dante Pettis, the NCAA record holder for punts returned for touchdowns, is a San Francisco 49er.
The 49ers made Pettis, a wide receiver and punt return specialist for the Washington Huskies, a second-round NFL Draft selection, taking him with the 44th overall pick.
Pettis broke the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns in 2017, scoring four as a senior to give him nine in his career. San Francisco, meanwhile, has gone 111 straight games without a punt return for a touchdown.
The San Clemente, Calif., native had 761 yards and seven touchdowns on 63 receptions in 2017, following up on a 2016 season in which he had 822 yards and 15 scores on 53 catches as a junior to help the Huskies reach the College Football Playoff.
Pettis is the second UW player taken in the 2018 draft, joining defensive tackle Vita Vea, who was the 12th overall pick in the first round taken by Tampa Bay.
The Niners traded the 59th and 74th overall picks to the Washington Redskins for the pick used on Pettis and the 142nd overall selection.
San Francisco paid a premium to move up in the draft but felt Pettis’ game-breaking speed made it worth the price. He has experience playing outside and in the slot and provides another deep threat in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to utilize.
“I’m hoping to do a lot of different things,” Pettis said. “Whether that’s taking a deep post, taking the top off of the defense or getting a little screen and breaking a few tackles, making a big play that way or just moving the chains on third down. There’s a lot of different things that I feel I can do that I can translate into the NFL.”
Pettis is also extremely sure handed. He dropped just three of his 64 catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 13th best in the nation last season.
Pettis is the son of former major leaguer Gary Pettis and the cousin of former NFL receiver Austin Pettis. Gary Pettis was born and raised in nearby Oakland and is currently the third-base coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros.
“It was awesome growing up,” Dante Pettis said. “I’ve been around professional sports my whole life. I already have the lay of the land. Obviously, football is a little bit different than baseball, but for the most part it’s still a professional sport. They all go about their business pretty much the same way. I’m just excited to actually be here now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.