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Murph: Why trading for Emmanuel Sanders was the right decision

© Ron Chenoy | 2019 Aug 19

Somewhere, you had the feeling that Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, John Taylor and Gene Washington were group-texting:

“OMG. Give me some pads and a helmet. I’ll go out there and put up 8 catches for 110 yards and a TD. Just give me the damn ball, Kyle!”

Well, maybe not. Not sure Rice and Owens are on a text level.

But you get my drift. The 49ers wide receiver situation was getting pretty dire. The ex-Niner greats had to be feeling the pain.

So, the 49ers made the right move in trading for Denver wideout Emmanuel Sanders.

He didn’t come free. The 49ers traded a third- and fourth-round pick in 2020 to land a 32-year-old whose best days are behind him, and whose contract expires at the end of this season.

But here’s how bereft the 49ers receiver room was:

Sanders comes to the 49ers with 30 catches for 367 yards and two TDs this season.

The 49ers’ top two wideouts, Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin, have combined for 26 catches and 349 yards.

*Combined*, sports fans.

In other words, meet Emmanuel Sanders — your No. 1 wide receiver for the 6-0 San Francisco 49ers.

And mind, he put up his numbers while his QB in Denver, Joe Flacco, put on weekly displays of staggering incompetence.

Freed from Flacco, Sanders adds George Kittle-like production to the offense right away, likely as soon as this Sunday. Kittle’s 34 catches for 376 yards had been serving as the 49ers’ de facto No. 1 option, and you saw in rainy D.C. how defenders are beginning to flock to Kittle in waves. Kittle should be so happy, he might be picking Sanders up at Norm Mineta International and springing for his first Panda Express run.

Moreover, the move for Sanders shows that John Lynch, in his first pennant race as a GM, understands the rules of engagement. Windows don’t open in the NFL every year, as I was just saying to my good friends Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. The 49ers, for the first time since 2013, have an open window of contention. Hell, it’s been so long since the window has been open in Santa Clara, it was one of those windows that seemed painted shut. It took, like, two strong guys to open it.

The 49ers are about to embark on the part of the schedule where the next seven games in a row are against teams that do not have losing records. Now, that includes two games against the 3-3-1 Cardinals, so that statistic comes with a slight asterisk. But the rest — Carolina, Seattle, Green Bay, Baltimore, New Orleans — are the kind of teams you can’t necessarily beat by telling Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to sack the QB, over and over and over. At some point, your guy Jim Garoppolo needs someone besides fun-lovin’ Kittle to haul in a third down pass.

Enter Sanders.

By trading next year’s 3rd and 4th rounders, the 49ers now enter the 2020 NFL Draft with a first-round pick . . . and then hang out eating Kittle’s Panda Express until the fifth round. They traded next year’s second-rounder for Dee Ford, don’t you know.

How’s that working out?

Yeah, I thought so. The Faithful are pretty delighted with movin’ on up to the New England Patriot neighborhood, over in ‘Undefeated Meadows’.

The 49ers are swinging for the fences. And even if Sanders isn’t a home-run hitter, he makes their offense obviously better, right away. His work with Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello means he is versed in Kyle Shanahan’s concepts, so the transition shouldn’t be discombobulated.

The 49ers haven’t had a 1,000-yard wideout since Anquan Boldin in 2013. Let’s make it a fun goal: Sanders has 10 games to accumulate 633 yards and hit 1,000 on the season. We’ll count it, even if his first seven games were in orange, not red.

At the least, Rice and the crew can stop group-texting and watch some football instead.


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