The 49ers likely didn’t realize the roster hole that would manifest Wednesday when they waived former second-round draft pick Dante Pettis on Tuesday.
Three of their wide receivers have since been forced to the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list — Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk included — leaving them with just one healthy pass catcher on their active roster ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Packers. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and star tight end George Kittle were placed on IR earlier in the week. There’s a case to be made that this is now the worst offensive group the NFL will see this year, and perhaps the least talented in recent memory.
So while Pettis in no way earned the right to stay with San Francisco, his final act a costly fumble this past weekend, he perhaps could have offered more hope of offensive production than some of the practice squad players likely to be called up. The Washington product caught 27 passes for 467 yards as a rookie in 2018 but has managed just 11 receptions since then.
Pettis was snapped up by the Giants on Wednesday, signifying the league thinks he is at least worth a shot on a tanking team.
Giants claimed former 49ers’ WR Dante Pettis on waivers, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2020
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At 4-4 in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, the injury ravaged 49ers have problems far beyond the choice to release a probable draft bust. But it’s a testament to how desperate things have gotten that Pettis now looks like he would have been able to contribute in the second half of the 2020 season.
San Francisco could resuscitate the career of a different written off receiver, though: Kevin White, a former top-10 pick of the Bears, is expected to be activated against the Packers. White has caught only 25 NFL passes in parts of four career seasons, largely due to a string of serious health setbacks. He’s the type of lottery scratcher the 49ers are down to right now.
With the Packers also hurting offensively, Thursday night’s contest might resemble an early preseason exhibition in terms of quality of play.