After news broke that the Patriots had traded for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, rumors intensified over what the San Francisco 49ers would do on their end. By mid-day on Tuesday, the rumors came to a halt as John Lynch traded the 2020 3rd and 4th round picks, in exchange for veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Denver’s 5th round pick in 2020.
2020 5th-round pick
2020 3rd-round pick
2020 4th-round pick
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) October 22, 2019
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Word quickly spread that the Broncos were hopeful to keep Sanders with the team through this week’s game against Indianapolis. However, San Francisco’s offer likely tipped the scales and spurred the sudden trade. As it stands, Sanders will have the next three days of practice with his new team and a likely walk-through on Saturday. Conditional on health, Sanders will be on the roster for 10 regular-season games. Both the wide receiver and the 49ers hope to add to that total with a playoff run.
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Sanders was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2010 draft. Now in his tenth season, Sanders has been a productive receiver, with five seasons of at least 50 receptions and 700 yards receiving. His addition to the San Francisco wide receiver room provides an immediate boost for an offense searching for consistency from the passing game. Sanders is an excellent route runner and has the ability to get separation against man coverage. It can be assumed that Kyle Shanahan will utilize Sanders primarily on the outside. Sanders has extensive experience as the outside receiver but also has the ability to work in the slot.
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Adding Sanders to the offense is an immediate boost. However, the 49ers are on the brink of gaining back a plethora of bodies over the next few weeks. San Francisco remains hopeful that wide receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd will return in the coming weeks. Both players are possible difference-makers for their ability to get open underneath and a knack for getting the difficult yards. Hurd may have only seen playing time during the preseason but he has the skillset to help the offense. The 49ers are also looking toward the return of left tackle Joe Staley. The veteran lineman broke his fibula in week two.
As the schedule becomes increasingly difficult, the 49ers are counting down the days before each player returns. In the near future, Staley and cornerback Akhello Weatherspoon are the closest to returning. Staley returned to practice this week and could be available on Sunday against the Panthers. Weatherspoon is likely to return next week as he’s recovering from a setback, according to Shanahan. Acquiring Sanders breathes additional excitement into the building. The 49ers were already riding high with their hot start to the season. Getting aggressive and improving the roster will be welcomed with open arms.
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Sanders is in the final year of his contract. He is due a hair over $6 million this season, although the 49ers will only be responsible for the time he spends on the roster. Interestingly enough, if Sanders is not retained by the 49ers, the team could be in line for a 2021 compensatory pick. Assuming that it nets San Francisco a 5th round selection, the trade for Sanders would result in the 3rd and 4th rounds to Denver, for Sanders and two 5th round picks. If the wide receiver can play at or near his potential, it would be quite a steal for the 49ers.
Two years ago, Lynch and Shanahan picked up Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round selection. It was an immediate upgrade and has paid dividends. Now the 49ers hope Sanders can add an immediate boost and give the offense a reliable target. The trade signified the 49ers are looking at this season as a real championship opportunity. If the move works, it could be February in Miami for San Francisco.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada
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