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49ers sign WR Mohamed Sanu

Kyle gets his guy

San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons sPhoto by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Per his agent, the San Francisco 49ers are signing wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. Kyle Shanahan hinted at the signing on Monday, and a day later, the team pulls it off. We’ve discussed Sanu a few times within the past month. Sanu is due to arrive in Santa Clara tonight, per his agent. He’d likely begin his COVID testing tonight and might be able to take the field for the first time Friday. Then it’s on a plane — to his home state of New Jersey.

Sanu’s best seasons came when Kyle was his play-caller. No, I don’t mean just looking at raw stats. Sanu has 32 receptions for 310 yards and a touchdown this past season, though in a much different offense. He’s a veteran that can line up both inside and outside. Sanu also knows the offense and has Shanahan’s trust. Before he was traded, Sanu was on pace to maintain his career averages as he caught 33 passes for 313 yards and a touchdown. Sanu caught 80% of his targets. In New England, things took a turn. Sanu caught just 26 of his 47 targets (55%) for 207 yards and a touchdown. Here’s a blurb from Football Outsiders Almanac on Sanu’s usage:

Part of the issue was Sanu’s role as a big slot receiver was muzzled in terms of an average depth of target. Not once in any of Sanu’s full seasons in Atlanta did he have more than 45% of his passes in the short area, yet 55% of his plays in 2019 were in the short area—a number that very well could have been higher if he spent the whole year in New England’s constipated offense. The situation around Sanu will need to open up in order for him to rediscover himself as a big slot threat over the middle.

After the struggles of Week 1 from the wideouts and Riche James’s hamstring injury, the 49ers were always going to add a receiver. The question was, who? Now we have our answer. Forty percent of you said the Niners should add Sanu. Well, your wish has been granted. I’m curious to see what Sanu’s usage will be and how often he plays. At his best, Sanu was a “big slot that stretched the middle of the field.”