LAKE FOREST – Dante Pettis knows all too well how fleeting NFL opportunities could be. When the moment arises, you should seize it if you would like to cling to your skilled life.
After making the Bears’ 53-man roster Tuesday, Pettis has given himself a recent lease on NFL life.
“I have been asking God for a chance,” Pettis said Tuesday after practice. “I used to be going to work as hard as I could. Every time that chance was, I used to be going to be ready for it. It feels good to have that repay not less than for this short time period.”
Pettis’ profession began near the NFL mountaintop when the 49ers traded up to pick out him within the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
A smooth route-running receiver from Washington, Pettis landed in the perfect situation, playing in a Kyle Shanahan offense that prioritizes getting open over the center of the sphere and racking up yards after the catch.
But Pettis’ tenure within the Bay wasn’t the dream many conjured up. After a solid end to his rookie season,
Pettis showed as much as 49ers’ camp off form and quickly fell out of favor with Shanahan. His playing time dwindled through the second half of the 2019 season, and he was inactive for the 49ers’ Super Bowl LIV loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Shanahan challenged Pettis to return back stronger and more focused after a disappointing sophomore season. But Pettis didn’t reverse course through the 2020 season, and the 49ers waived him after being unable to trade him before the deadline.
The Latest York Giants claimed Pettis, but he couldn’t break through within the Meadowlands. After catching 38 passes for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns in 28 games for the 48ers, Pettis caught just 14 passes for 163 yards and two scores in five games for the Giants.
The disappointing season in Latest York saw Pettis head into free agency with limited interest. NFL purgatory could be death for young receivers past their first and second possibilities.
The Bears called for a workout in May, and Pettis arrived in Chicago prepared to take full advantage of a chance to hitch a team without many proven receivers. After a successful workout, the Bears signed Pettis to a one-year contract.
In a crowded receiver room stuffed with guys fighting for his or her NFL existence, Pettis worked hard to showcase his versatility as a reliable receiver and punt returner. His ability to get open against man and zone has also given quarterback Justin Fields a comfort level with the previous second-round pick.
“He’s done an ideal job,” offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said of Pettis. “I feel a chance was presented and he’s gone out and brought it by the horns. He’s done an ideal job of having the ability to have flexibility to play multiple positions. He’s presented one-on-one opportunities and he’s won them, each within the practice and the preseason games. In our game, you have to have guys which can be capable of win those one-on-one battles. He’s done a pleasant job with that.”
After being kicked to the curb by the 49ers and having his second probability in Latest York slip through his fingers, Pettis arrived in Chicago with a special view of the chance. The tough lessons from an early profession fall gave him a special perspective on finding an NFL home and sticking there.
“I feel every young football player, as they undergo their seasons, learns so much,” Pettis told NBC Sports Chicago. “I feel my lessons were, I don’t desire to say harder than anybody else’s, nevertheless it was just a special situation than most individuals’s journeys. So, it did teach me so much. Not that I didn’t take football serious or anything, it’s just a special approach to it.
“Opportunities should not as easy to return by when you’re out of that first two years. Those first two years, I feel like teams are so much more lenient with players. They offer their young players those opportunities and stuff. Because the years go on, especially in case you’re not one in all those proven vets, you are opportunities get smaller and smaller. So just having the ability to benefit from those, being ready for each opportunity that is thrown at you.”
Pettis appeared to be behind the eight ball after missing per week of coaching camp resulting from an injury. With a crowded receiving corps, time on grass could have thoroughly been the determining factor when it got here to final roster spots.
But Pettis eked through the cut and now could be one in all three healthy Bears receivers on the energetic roster and the second most-accomplished receiver in the complete group. While that is not saying so much, the state of the Bears’ unheralded receiving corps presents a probability for Pettis to resurrect his profession if he can proceed to construct chemistry and trust with Fields.
Grizzled by his early-career tribulations, Pettis doesn’t view this as anything greater than a probability to play the sport he loves. He knows it could actually be taken away immediately.
“On daily basis you might have to prove what you possibly can do,” Pettis told NBC Sports Chicago. “I’ve learned that the last couple years. Guys can are available in as high as could be and halfway through the season they are not even playing. Just are available in day-after-day with the attitude that I actually have something to prove, that little chip on my shoulder and being confident in yourself and having the ability to go to work each day.”
Pettis couldn’t discover a long-term home within the Bay or the Meadowlands.
But he’s still only 26 years old. His route-running and flexibility have given him one other shot in Chicago.
One he knows he cannot afford to waste.