Allen Park — It’s been nearly three decades, but Detroit fans old enough to remember likely have fond memories of former Tiger Gary Pettis. He won a pair of Gold Gloves patrolling center field at Tiger Stadium and used that same speed to rack up 87 steals from 1988-89.
This weekend, anyone who tunes into the Detroit Lions matchup with the San Francisco 49ers will have an opportunity to be whisked back in time, with next generation of the Pettis family tree putting his genetic predisposition for speed and catching balls to good use.
Dante Pettis, Gary’s son, is in his rookie season with the 49ers, and he's off to a fine start. A second-round pick out of Washington, he hauled in a pair of passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in his debut last week against the Vikings.
“Another guy, Pettis is extremely fast,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “He has that vertical push threat to him that really kind of stresses the top of the defense. …He will be a dangerous guy in that position. We will have to have great awareness to where he is. I think he can really be a key factor in the game if we don’t do a good job of stopping him.”
Pettis earned first-team All-American honors with the Huskies last year, tallying 63 catches for 761 yards and seven scores. He added another four touchdowns as a punt returner.
He’s also returning punts for the 49ers.
As for Gary, he’s still working in baseball as the third base coach for the defending World Series champion Houston Astros.
Lions at 49ers
Kickoff: 4 p.m. Sunday, Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco
Records: Both teams are 0-1
Line: 49ers by 6