*Questions & answers have been edited slightly for clarity*
“Last week has been awesome. Obviously Friday, I got the call & I was with everyone — my family & some of my close friends. We just kinda enjoyed that night. The last few days have been kinda getting ready for coming out here & working out.”
How many times have you seen that video? It’s crazy — the reaction huh?
“Yeah! Uh, I only watched it about two times because, I mean, I don’t know it’s still kinda weird to look back at that right now.”
How much have you talked to your cousin Austin (Pettis) throughout this process, but also kinda in coming here, what to expect?
“I talked to him a lot. He was my trainer for like, well my wide receiver coach, basically for the last three/four months. So almost everyday I’d say. He’s taught me a lot about football & what to expect in the NFL & all that.”
Anything specific that you carry with you & really took to heart?
“Pretty much just don’t take anything for granted. Come in & work as hard as you can and good things will happen.”
When did you finally talk to your dad? Because I know he was in the middle of a game (when you were drafted.
“Yeah, it was around, probably two hours/two & a half hours after I got drafted. It happened right before the first pitch, so he actually saw it. He ran inside right after the National Anthem when there was still a few minutes left before the first pitch. So, he comes in & he saw that the 49ers traded up & was all like, ‘oh hold on! Wait a minute this might be it because I know they were interested in Dante!’ So, he saw that and sure enough, they announced it & he was going crazy in there. It was cool.”
What was that father-son conversation like?
“I FaceTimed him with the rest of my family, so we were all just really excited.”
How did your college recruitment work out? Peterson was hired at Washington, did he discover you because he had coached your cousin at Boise, or were you already committed to Washington?
“No, he was recruiting me at Boise State, but it was kinda through my cousin. It wasn’t until about October of my senior year though. It was kinda late. Then obviously he took the job at Washington in like December and that was kinda when he was like, ‘hey we still have a spot for you if you want it!’ So, I went out there and visited.”
Where do you think you would’ve ended up had Coach Pete not been hired at Washington?
“If he stayed at Boise State, I probably would’ve gone there. If not, it would’ve been San Diego State.”
Do you know whether you can take part in all the OTA’s & all that stuff?
“It’s my understanding that I can. I think that they changed the rule this year. I mean, if they didn’t then I’ve been lied to for the last four months, so we’ll see!”
Does that mean that you’ve graduated?
“I haven’t graduated yet.”
Do you come into the NFL, with what you did at Washington as a punt returner and a receiver, what do you set out as your goal? Besides being an all-around team contributor, do you want to be a punt returner — like the best in the league? Do you wanna be just one of the other receivers? How does that work?
“Rookie year — obviously I want to play as much as I can, but I’ve been around sports enough to know that it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes there is a learning curve. Sometimes there’s just someone ahead of you that’s better. The only thing you fan really do is come in & work as hard as you can every single day. Like I said, I have stuff that I wanted to get done, but I do know because I’ve been around sports enough to know how that goal goes.”
Have you patterned yourself after any of the great returners that the NFL has had?
“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it that much. I kinda view myself more as a receiver, not really a punt returner. So, everything I’ve aimed for is really receiver-wise, not that much for punt returns.”
Is it more like ‘what do I have to do to get on the field?
“Yeah, pretty much. You just wanna play your rookie year. Whether that’s on special teams or on offense, you just wanna get on the field & get your feet wet.”
How do you describe your best attributes as a punt returner & what do you think is going to be the biggest adjustment jumping into the league?
“I think my best attributes has to be my decision making. I’m pretty aggressive in the return game too. So, I try not to let too many balls hit the ground. I try to catch everything & I think that’s going to be a little bit of a transition just because of better players. So, you can’t just be more athletic than somebody or run around somebody. You have to trust the blocking even more & figure out different ways to get past people.”
Were you able to run before the NFL Draft at all?
“Yeah I was.”
What was your time? I think I saw a 4.47 (40-yard dash)?
“Yeah that was it, or right around there.”
I know your last year at Washington, you got to lineup everywhere — not just inside or outside at wide receiver, but also sometimes in the backfield. I know that Kyle Shanahan, he’s big on that kind of versatility. Perhaps their biggest free agency signing was McKinnon, who can do everything. Was that something that he talked to you about during the pre-draft process?
“Yeah, that’s why he said he liked me son much because he knows that I can move around & I didn’t really have a problem with it. So, that was one of the things he mentioned to me — that he’d like to move me around and see what I can do.”
What do you see as your best attributes as a receiver? What do you take pride in?
“I think just my overall athleticism. My speed, my quickness in and out of breaks, jumping ability, all that stuff. How I run routes — I feel like I run pretty good routes & I take a lot of pride in that.”
You’ve been preparing for a long time, and you have such an interesting pedigree. I mean, your mom was a Raiderette, and we know about your dad. Do you look at that and go, ‘well, here comes another chapter in the Pettis Family Album?
“Yeah, kinda. There’s a lot that has gone on — especially in the Bay Area. My dad coming from here & all that. I’m excited to add to the book & we’ll see what happens!”
Do you have fond memories of playing here? Obviously you played here for the PAC-12 title game a couple of years ago. Now, you’re going to be playing in it for your NFL career!
“Yeah, you know I’m undefeated here (laughter)! So, we’ll see if I can keep that up!”