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As head coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday, there would be a “a lot” of Emmanuel Sanders against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. That appeared to be independent of Marquise Goodwin’s availability. Goodwin was listed as questionable for personal matters and missed Thursday and Friday’s practices for an issue that is not believed to be related to immediate family.
Goodwin was ruled out for Sunday, leaving Sanders as the only veteran wide receiver active after the team released Jordan Matthews to make room for Sanders and the return of long snapper Kyle Nelson. The most experienced receiver behind Sanders will be Kendrick Bourne, which says less about Bourne and more about the inexperience the 49ers have at the position. The stats are damning, as Matt Barrows of The Athletic points out.
#49ers receivers today:
* Emmanuel Sanders: 565 career catches, 7391 yards
* Kendrick Bourne: 67, 883
* Dante Pettis: 36, 550
* Richie James: 14, 238
* Deebo Samuel, 15, 168
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 27, 2019
Goodwin’s absence probably means more for that young ground than for Sanders. Sanders is expected to line up mostly in the slot, where Richie James Jr. has largely played, and which the 49ers haven’t utilized all that frequently. You may see more slot alignments for Sanders and Kendrick Bourne replacing Goodwin on the outside with Dante Pettis and Deebo Samuel (depending on how his groin is) see more snaps as well.
The 49ers’ other inactives for Sunday are all expected, with both D.J. Jones (hamstring strain) and Deebo Samuel (groin strain) returning for this week. Out for Sunday are tackles Mike McGlinchey (left knee arthroscopy) and Joe Staley (fractured left fibula), Ahkello Witherspoon (foot sprain), Kyle Juszczyk (left knee MCL sprain), C.J. Beathard and Jullian Taylor.
While Staley had an “outside chance” to play Sunday, he did not appear anywhere near 100 percent on Thursday and said that his knee “blew up” after doing work before the Redskins game last Sunday. Shanahan said he’d have to be able to play Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals in order to play this Sunday. It would seem more likely at this point that he returns in Week 10 versus the Seattle Seahawks, which would be right at the tail end of his six-to-eight week return timeline.