The 49ers made a splash on Tuesday, trading next year’s third and fourth-round picks for Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and fifth-round pick, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The trade makes sense for both sides. Put simply, with Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd and Deebo Samuel all nursing injuries, and the lack of a number one option even when all are healthy, San Francisco needed an upgrade at the position. The Broncos (2-5) are in rebuilding mode (whether they know it or not) and were not going to re-sign Sanders, 32, when he becomes a free agent next offseason.
But perhaps that wasn’t the only reason the Broncos moved on from Sanders. General manager John Elway implied as much with his comments to reporters after the trade.
“Emmanuel had issues and we had issues, so that’s why it was good time to go in different directions,” Elway said.
John Elway: “Emmanuel had issues and we had issues, so that’s why it was good time to go in different directions.”
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 22, 2019
It’s unclear what Elway is referring to here, and he didn’t elaborate, but it would make sense that Sanders would be frustrated in a Broncos offense that hasn’t had consistent quarterback play since Payton Manning’s swan song in 2015. Sanders gained 1,135 yards receiving that year, and eclipsed 1,000 again the next year with Trevor Siemian at the helm, but hasn’t passed that mark since.
Through seven games this season with the struggling Joe Flacco at quarterback, Sanders has 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns.