Postgame Buzz: San Francisco 49ers win season opener 31-17 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kyle Shanahan thought he made a mistake when it came to Dante Pettis in the season opener.
“I definitely didn’t plan on Dante getting only two (snaps),” Shanahan said in a conference call Monday. “He should have been in more than that. That starts with me (to) make sure not to let that happen again.”
Pettis, a receiver the 49ers drafted in the second round in 2018, entered the new year expected to be a major contributor in Shanahan’s offense. Yet he was on the sideline for 66 of San Francisco’s 68 plays in the Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while rookie Deebo Samuel worked at Pettis’ “Z” position opposite Marquise Goodwin.
Shanahan made it a point Monday to say he’s still looking for receivers to establish themselves as starters which was something he echoed throughout the preseason.
“It’s definitely not Deebo’s (starting) job. It’s not anyone’s right now,” Shanahan said. “... No one’s really taken that role.”
Pettis has been under the microscope following his rookie season in which he showed promise despite missing four games with a knee injury. Shanahan has said he wants the second-year pro from Washington to play with more urgency, particularly when challenged by physical defensive backs.
Getting just two snaps, while the offense struggled with just 256 yards Sunday, indicates Pettis is firmly below Samuel, Goodwin, Richie James Jr., Kendrick Bourne, who all played more snaps in the sweltering Tampa heat.
There’s also a groin injury that cost Pettis a week of practice before the fourth preseason game in which the starters began preparing for the Buccaneers. He began last week listed as a limited participant on the practice report before no longer needing treatment on Thursday and Friday.
“Dante got a set back with his groin injury where he just missed some time in practice,” Shanahan said. “That gave him a little bit of a setback leading into Week 1, which made it easier for Deebo to start over him. But we went into it knowing Deebo was going to get more playing time.”
San Francisco’s most effective pass-catcher Sunday was tight end George Kittle (eight catches, 54 yards) while Samuel led wideouts with three receptions. James’ 39-yard touchdown in the third quarter was his only catch and his yardage led all receivers. Goodwin and Bourne dropped catchable passes that were inaccurate coming from Jimmy Garoppolo which were notable as the passing game sputtered throughout.
With so much riding on the success of Garoppolo this season, the pressure is mounting on the young group of receivers to be consistently productive. Goodwin is the group’s most experienced player, but had just one productive campaign in his seven-year career when he logged 967 yards in 2017. He averaged 235 yards on his other five full seasons.
Aside from Goodwin, the team’s oldest receiver is Trent Taylor, 25, who’s continuing to work his way back from August foot surgery. Pettis, Samuel and third-round pick Jalen Hurd are all 23 while none have more than Pettis’ 13 games of experience.
Garoppolo on Sunday completed 7 of 12 attempts to his receivers for 79 yards while finishing with 166. His 6.1 yards per attempt was the lowest of any start in his career. That number would have been dramatically different if not for the missed connections with Bourne and Goodwin.
Taylor is likely to miss Sunday’s game and perhaps the Week 3 home opener against the Steelers as he works his way back from the injury. Hurd has been tabbed week to week while dealing with back tightness and it’s unclear when he’ll return to practice.
Suffice to say, the development and Pettis and the rest of the receiving corps bears monitoring as Garoppolo continues to get comfortable following his ACL tear.
Bosa earns thumbs up following debut
The early signs were promising from the 49ers’ No. 2 overall pick. Pass rusher Nick Bosa was a handful for the Buccaneers to block during his first 39 NFL snaps after the missing the preseason because of a high right ankle sprain.
Bosa had a sack of Jameis Winston and was a pain throughout. His 26 percent pass rush win rate was the second-best rate among rookies in Week 1, according to ESPN.
“He definitely had an effect on the game which is what we were hoping for,” Shanahan said. “He got into the backfield a lot. I know he got that one sack which started with Dee Ford running (Winston) into him. He had a number of times when he got free, which I thought were impressive.”
Bosa admitted afterwards his ankle was still sore and he’ll likely continue to play through pain in the coming weeks.
“It’s a long game,” he said. “You can’t really simulate it with practice. Definitely going to be sore but I’ll be fine.”
Bosa on two instances beat his blocker and got into the backfield with a clear shot at Winston, who’s known for making pass rushers miss. Winston juked Bosa both times, offering the rookie a valuable lesson in going for the tackle rather than hesitating.
“Just shoot my gun and not just pitter-pattering my feet like that,” Bosa said. “Because if I shoot my gun, even if I don’t get him, I’ll make him either stumble or make him go a certain way and make someone else get him. I kind of just broke down too much and let him get away.”
The way Bosa thinks about the game, on top of his promising skill set, has the 49ers encouraged about what he could bring to the defense over the long haul.
“Being around him, you can see why he’s such a good football player,” Shanahan said. “The guy’s extremely smart, knows a lot about football, looks at it the right way, he’s just not always trying to win on ability, he’s trying to win on technique and discipline, plus with his ability.”