Promising Ex-49ers WR Signs with Bears in Free Agency

Dante Pettis

Getty Dante Pettis makes a stiff arm while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers are figuring out their future with Deebo Samuel, but one of their former receivers is joining the Chicago Bears.

Dante Pettis, a San Clemente, California native and the 49ers’ second-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft is headed to the Windy City. The Bears announced the free agency addition on May 12, but Pettis beat them to the “scoop” by sharing the news on Twitter.

“thank you Lord year 5 lets goooo,” Pettis posted alongside a photo of him signing his contract.

The Bears actually signed two receivers per the team’s press release, with Tajae Sharpe joining Pettis in Chicago. In return, the NFC North franchise released WRs Cyrus Holden and Henry Litwin.

Pettis has dealt with terrible injury luck since arriving in the league in 2018, and a stop with the New York Giants in 2021 did not help. Now, the former Washington Huskies star can try again with a fresh start with the Bears.

Pettis’ Potential and Playing Time

49ers fans were excited when the team selected Pettis in 2018. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo just had a stellar finish to the 2017 season, and adding a highly-touted receiver out of college seemed like a slam-dunk move.

However, a rookie season nagged by injury would end up being Pettis’ best year in the red and gold. The now 26-year-old played in 12 games total and ended his season on the injury reserve, catching 27 passes for 467 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

In 2020, Pettis only played 11 games and only caught 11 passes according to Pro Sports Reference. He did two more touchdowns to the resume, but only 109 receiving yards.

The former Husky’s time with the 49ers ended unceremoniously, with the team releasing him in November of 2020. In response, the Giants picked him up and utilized him at the end of the 2020 season and during the 2021 season.

Over that span, Pettis played just five games. He brought down 14 balls for 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

It’s an unfortunate stretch for a former star, as Pettis was an enticing talent coming out of college with 22 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Washington. Four years on from his NFL draft class, and Pettis is still trying to find his feet.

Bears Could Be Good Fit for Former 49ers WR

A fresh start is sometimes all you need, and Pettis appears to be walking into a good situation in Chicago with head coach Matt Eberflus.

Part of the reason why Chicago seems like a good fit is that they simply don’t have a ton of talent at receiver. Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle are currently listed at the top of ESPN’s depth chart for the Bears. Not exactly a 1-2 combo that will make it hard for other receivers to get targets.

Pettis also makes sense as a pass-catching option for young QB Justin Fields. Despite only being 6’1″, Pettis has incredible length and a knack for catching balls in the endzone. Nine touchdowns in 33 career games is an impressive return.

Pettis won’t “flip the switch” for the Bears offense to explode, but considering their current depth and options, the former 49ers WR has a very legitimate chance to make the Chicago roster.