Thank you, John Lynch. I was dreading writing the winners and losers article about Sunday’s game. Here, I will quick now. Winners: The undefeated team that escaped with no injuries. Losers: The same franchise that has been losing for over a decade. Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk more about Emmanuel Sanders. Here are the winners and losers from a San Francisco 49ers point of view.
I don’t think this is a hot take: Sanders is the best receiver on the team. More on that later this morning. Too often this season, there have been instances where a 49ers receiver hasn’t gotten the job done. Whether slipping in their routes or not being able to separate. With Sanders, that’s not the case. He makes it look easy.
Sanders doesn’t have to be Julio Jones in this offense. He needs to be a player that Kyle Shanahan can count on. Sanders has been that for his entire career. It’s tough to imagine that won’t be the case in San Francisco. Where Sanders excels at is over the intermediate part of the field. That’s the same area Garoppolo excels. This is a perfect marriage.
Take a team like Carolina, for example. The Panthers are excellent at limiting passes over the middle of the field. They’re 2nd in DVOA in that regard. Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson make up one of the better linebacker duos in the NFL. You have to imagine the Panthers are going to do everything they can to takeaway Kittle. As the 49ers play some of the better defenses on their schedule, I expect teams to put extra bodies in the middle of the field and force Jimmy G to beat him outside of the numbers. Adding Sanders means you can’t afford to put extra eyes on Kittle. Also, it may lighten Kittle’s workload.
This biggest loser in this scenario is Goodwin. He was the teams’ veteran presence. The 49ers save $3.875M in 2020, and also $7M in 2021 if they cut Goodwin. It’s not that Goodwin hasn’t been bad. It’s that Goodwin hasn’t stepped up regained the magic he and Garoppolo had at the end of 2017. The 49ers gave him a chance, but Goodwin has shown that he’s a role player. Knowing they needed more out of the position to get over the hump, the Niners went and acquired Goodwin.
This could be a sign that Taylor isn’t as close to returning as the 49ers had hoped. Kyle Shanahan didn’t sound too confident in his presser on Monday when talking about Taylor. The team won’t know for another few weeks, but the trade deadline is October 29. John Lynch has been aggressive since the minute he became the general manager. Instead of waiting to see if Taylor would return, he went out and traded for Sanders. Taylor still may return in 2019, but this move ensures the 49ers have another weapon over the next month or so while he and Jalen Hurd recover.
To me, this doesn’t stunt the growth for any young receiver on the roster. For Pettis, this may be a sign of the 49ers conceding he’s not a No. 1 wide receiver. Not yet, at least. The reason I don’t view this trade as a “loss” for Pettis is that it should cement his role as the No. 2 option at receiver. It also takes the pressure off Pettis to perform. Kyle Shanahan did everything he could during the summer to challenge Pettis. No matter how you slice it, from how the offense is run to the injury Pettis dealt with to start the season, it’s been a disappointing start sophomore season.
Samuel should be healthy now. The expectations are always inflated for a rookie. Pettis exceeded his, which led me and many others to believe Pettis was on his way to stardom. For Samuel, he can be Shanahan’s gadget guy. Screens, jet sweeps, and passing plays where Kyle can scheme Deebo open and put him in a situation where he can create with the ball in his hands. The slants aren’t going anywhere, but as a route runner, Samuel needs more time to develop. Samuel is going to be a very good player in this league. He’s not there yet, and that’s okay.