Dante Pettis has return trips to Seattle in his future. The UW receiver was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks' NFC West rival.
Before formally departing the University of Washington, Dante Pettis wanted to say thank you.
“Anyone that knows me, knows how much I LOVE this university, this city, you guys,” he wrote in a farewell letter to Husky fans posted on the UW athletics’ website, GoHuskies.com, earlier this week. “I bleed Purple and Gold, and that will never change.”
Pettis isn’t going too far, and he’ll be back in Seattle at least once a year.
The San Francisco 49ers traded up to select Pettis in the second round of the NFL draft Friday, taking the versatile wide receiver with the 44th overall pick. Pettis became the second Husky taken in this draft, following Vita Vea’s selection by Tampa Bay in the first round Thursday.
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Playing for the Seahawks’ chief rival, Pettis will be back in Seattle once a year with the 49ers.
San Francisco paid a premium to move up in the draft but felt Pettis’ game-breaking speed made it worth the price. At UW, he had experience playing outside and in the slot and provides another deep threat in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to utilize.
Pettis, a consensus All-American punt returner, is also expected to have an immediate impact on special teams after setting the NCAA record last fall with nine punt-return touchdowns in his UW career.
San Francisco has gone 111 straight games without a punt return for a touchdown.
“I’m hoping to do a lot of different things,” Pettis said. “Whether that’s taking a deep post, taking the top off of the defense or getting a little screen and breaking a few tackles, making a big play that way or just moving the chains on third down. There’s a lot of different things that I feel I can do that I can translate into the NFL.”
Pettis, 6-feet-1 and 186 pounds from San Clemente, Calif., was a first-team all-Pac-12 wide receiver in 2017. He finished his college career ranked fourth on the Huskies’ all-time list with 163 receptions, for 2,256 yards and 24 touchdowns in 53 games. Pettis caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven TDs last season.
“(Pettis) was a driving force on the resurgence of our program,” UW offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan posted on Twitter. “One of those guys that just made days better. Perfect fit @49ers. Stay true to you and keep making a difference.”
Pettis is also extremely sure-handed. He dropped just three of his 64 catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 13th best in the nation last season.
The Pettis family is familiar with the Bay Area. Pettis’ mom, Peggy, was a Raiderette cheerleader and his dad, Gary, was born and raised in nearby Oakland and is the third-base coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros.
“It was awesome growing up,” Dante Pettis said. “I’ve been around professional sports my whole life. I already have the lay of the land. Obviously, football is a little bit different than baseball, but for the most part it’s still a professional sport. They all go about their business pretty much the same way. I’m just excited to actually be here now.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.