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5 things to know about new Giant Dante Pettis

Where will wide receiver/punt returner fit? Can he help?

Divisional Round - Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers
Dante Pettis
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Let’s get to know a little more about Dante Pettis, the wide receiver/punt returner the New York Giants were awarded on waivers from the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday.

Why didn’t things work out in San Francisco?

Kyle Posey of SB Nation’s 49ers website, Niners Nation, explains:

Pettis is a talented receiver. He didn’t work out for a number of reasons in San Francisco. Pettis started his rookie campaign strong but was hurt after seven games. Pettis came into 2019’s training camp overweight, which led to a couple of injuries that put him behind the 8-ball. From there, he never truly recovered.

“Pettis got into Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse. Shanahan publicly challenged Pettis, and he never responded in the way his head coach was looking for. Pettis didn’t do the 49ers any favors. During the 2019 training camp, the running joke was that Pettis was going to drop anything over the middle as he gator-armed a lot of passes. He built a reputation for being “soft,” which was unfair, but it never went away.”

The Giants weren’t the only team interested

ESPN NFL insider Field Yates reported that the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns both put in waiver claims on Pettis. If the Giants had not claimed Pettis, he would have landed with the 2-5 Patriots. They have a higher waiver wire priority than the 5-3 Browns.

A new punt return option

Pettis holds the NCAA Div. I record with nine punt returns for touchdown. That makes him an option to join Jabrill Peppers and Golden Tate as potential punt returns.

Dante Pettis was one of the best punt returners in the history of college football. He had nine punt returns for touchdowns,” special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said. “Obviously he’s had some success in the past and hopefully once he gets here we’ll find out what his skill set is, what he can do, find his strengths and try and play to that.”

Joe Judge: A spot open for Pettis

The Giants currently have 52 of 53 roster spots filled. It sounds like they will hold that spot until Pettis is officially available next week.

“There’s a lot of guys who have exposure to him from when he came out from college ... He’s got a level of talent, we’d like to see him in the building, give him a chance to get out there and work,” said head coach Joe Judge. “We’re always looking at the waiver [wire] and trying to see if there’s any way we can add someone to our roster we think can help.”

What are the chances he will help the Giants?

Back to Posey:

“Pettis was one of the most prolific, dynamic returners in college football, but we never saw that version of him in the NFL. There is evidence of him running routes and playing at a high level, so it’s not as if he’s without talent. A longer leash, and he’s still in San Francisco. He’s a tough player to figure out, but a new scenery should [do] Pettis wonders. There’s no doubt Pettis could turn into a useful player for the Giants.”