One of the main reasons Kyle Shanahan is OK with short wide receivers, and almost prefers them, is because he values route running and the ability to create separation far more than he values size or pure athletic ability.
On this play against the Cardinals, we saw how Emmanuel Sanders is able to do just that:
Again, Sanders lined up in the slot. From my eye, it looks to be a sail concept, with the outside receiver running a go, while Sanders runs a deep out/corner. The throw by Jimmy Garoppolo is excellent once again; he threw the ball with perfect anticipation, leading Sanders right out of the break.
Sanders himself was matched up one-on-one with Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, a renowned cover cover. This was exquisite route running by Sanders. He drove Peterson back on the vertical component and cut sharply when he had to.
The ball found him so well because he created that extra separation which added onto the throw.
It’s a pristine play all around.