The San Francisco 49ers have acquired Emmanuel Sanders from the Denver Broncos, and fellow wide receiver Marquise Goodwin stands to lose the most in this exchange. And one of his best assets may be to blame.
The Niners get wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and a 2020 fifth-round NFL Draft pick in exchange for the 49ers’ third- and fourth-round picks in 2020.
Sanders is not yet clear to play this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, as he must still pass a physical. But things seem to be trending in the right direction.
Per Pro Football Focus, Sanders ranks third in most catchable targets league-wide:
Sanders is a 10-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, who has made eight playoff appearances and has recorded 41 touchdowns. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan must be chomping at the bit to get his new receiver into the mix of an already crowded wideout corps.
Let’s do a quick dive into how Sanders’ addition will affect receivers on the roster.
For now, we are not taking into account wide receivers Jalen Hurd or Trent Taylor as they are still on injured reserve, but may possibly return later this year.
Also excluded from this piece is Richie James Jr., as he’s been relegated to nothing more than a punt returner or relief wide receiver.
Goodwin is currently the leading receiver behind star tight end George Kittle. To date, Kittle has raked in 376 yards on 327 snaps for one touchdown, and Goodwin has 181 yards on 234 snaps and one touchdown.
Next in line is Samuel with 168 yards on 212 snaps and a touchdown, and Bourne with 139 yards on 101 snaps and zero touchdowns. Pettis has almost been an afterthought with 83 yards on 174 snaps and one touchdown.
Samuel has been the third most-productive receiver behind Kittle, and Goodwin and has been targeted second most behind Kittle. He’s also played twice as many snaps as Bourne, but there hasn’t really been a breakout as many expected.
Goodwin is mostly a deep-threat field-stretcher, who’s demonstrated continued chemistry with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but has become the de facto WR1 by necessity, even if the numbers suggest otherwise.
The receiver who continues to mystify is Pettis. He’s a smooth route runner with great feet, but half of his 83 yards on the season came against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6. Granted he was dealing with an injury during the first three weeks, but it’s not like his arrow is pointing up.
Pettis is an enigma given his snap count. He’s out on the field, but to what end? For what purpose? More importantly, how will his services be used going forward? How will the second half of the season shape out for him?
I honestly have no clue.
Based on the stats and metrics I tracked, it’s clear Shanahan is intent on using Goodwin, Samuel, and Bourne. Pettis is also there. Wouldn’t it make sense if he were the odd man out, purely from an analytical standpoint?
Analytically speaking, yes. There is a case to be made. But from a qualitative stand, in the end, Goodwin has the most to lose in this deal.
Goodwin’s greatest asset on the field is his lightning speed, and that may also be his demise. Going forward, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll be used sparingly in unique situations which call his field-stretching speed to blow the top off defensive secondaries and allow more room for route runners.
This is a win for the 49ers, though. The offense will have a reliable weapon in Sanders and Goodwin is less likely to get hurt with decreased snaps.
One thing’s for sure, it’ll be great seeing what Garoppolo can do with Sanders. But Goodwin won’t be used anywhere near as much.