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49ers awed by Emmanuel Sanders’ lightning-quick recovery from Achilles tear


Emmanuel Sanders tore his left Achilles on December 5 of last year. It’s an injury which has a massive range of return timelines, anywhere from six-to-12 months. Sanders was on the far earlier side of that spectrum, taking part in OTAs at the start of May of this year, and playing against the 49ers on August 19 in the preseason.

That return had Richard Sherman asking questions. Sherman, who tore his Achilles in November of 2017, said he had sutures in his heels for most of last season and played in a tremendous amount of pain, which he said limited his capabilities. Sanders, in his introductory press conference with the 49ers on Wednesday, said he did not have to deal with that.

The two met up during joint practices between the 49ers and Broncos this preseason, but they’d been in contact since the day after Sanders tore his Achilles.

“I had a conversation with him the day after the tore his Achilles last year, and just about the process and what it takes to get back,” Sherman said. “He looked great [in the preseason]. I had to ask him what he had done, but he just worked really hard. He came back, he had a lot of pop, a lot of explosion, and you could see it. You couldn’t tell he just came off an Achilles surgery at all.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, who said he’s “wanted” Sanders since he was a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013, thinks he looks better now than last season, before the injury.

“What’s been the best is being able to watch him in all his games this year and just being able to compare him to before his injury,” Shanahan said. “I thought he looked healthier in these games this year than he did last year before his Achilles because I know he was playing last year real banged up before that Achilles happened. What he’s done in these five or six games, really liked how he looked on tape and that’s why I was really glad we were able to get him.”

Sanders said his approach was founded in his mentality, and included cutting out things like alcohol.

“I think the Achilles, it was just a positive mindset and telling myself every single day that I go to work and make sure I give 100%, maximize the time, maximize the hours, maximize the minute of every second that I’ve been there,” Sanders said. “Even when I get home, make sure that I’m sleeping well and I’m not drinking alcohol and doing all the right things that I could come back. So I dedicated myself in doing it and was able to come back a lot faster than people expected.”

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