The 49ers are going all in on 2019. If there were any doubts, they were erased Tuesday by general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Just a day after Shanahan said it wasn’t necessary to add another wide receiver, the 49ers did just that, trading for veteran Emmanuel Sanders from the Denver Broncos.
At 6-0, the 49ers have a terrific chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and adding Sanders not only fortifies the team’s chances for a playoff berth, but strengthens the offense for the postseason.
As Jeff Legwold and Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com wrote, "Sanders immediately becomes the most accomplished receiver on a team that has jumped out to a 6-0 start for the first time since 1990."
And, the 49ers were willing to risk future investments to get Sanders, trading away third- and fourth-round draft picks for 2020 (while receiving a fifth-round pick from Denver, too).
Plus, as Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports pointed out, Sanders is signed only through the end of this season, so making the move seems smart for the short term, perhaps, but will it pay off higher than the cost?
"The 49ers passing game is better, but they paid a high price for a 32-year-old wide receiver who many not be on the roster next year and has missed four games in each of the last two years," he wrote.
Though the 49ers went into this season with a deeper corps of wideouts than in recent years, that group has been thinned by injuries. Projected No. 1 slot receiver Trent Taylor and rookie Jalen Hurd are on injured reserve. Rookie Deebo Samuel missed last weekend’s victory over Washington, one in which Marquise Goodwin left with a possible concussion (but later was cleared). And, Dante Pettis hasn’t produced (yet) the bigger numbers that were hoped.
Vincent Frank of Forbes noted the Niners have been looking for an additional veteran wideout for quite a while, and had tried to trade for Odell Beckham Jr. and had showed interest in several free agents, including Tyrell Williams (now of the Raiders).
Wrote Frank: "If the 49ers wanted to be taken seriously as legit Super Bowl contenders, they had to add a top-end receiver. Sanders’ production of 30 receptions for 367 yards bests the 49ers’ top two (wide) receivers combined."
Lynch says Sanders will add more than just his receiving ability, calling him a "passionate football player" with toughness and a competitive streak that should help the team as a whole.
"We are excited to add Emmanuel to our roster and look forward to seeing him positively impact our team," said Lynch.
Sanders could see his first action Sunday, when the 49ers host the 4-2 Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.