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On the surface, it doesn’t appear this was the right move. After all, the Niners gave up two day-two draft picks to the Denver Broncos to acquire Sanders for half a season. When Sanders arrived, San Francisco’s wide receiver corps solidified and became a force.
But as Niner Noise’s pointed out here, Sanders’ 2019 statistics with the 49ers were somewhat misleading.
Yes, Sanders accumulated 502 receiving yards on 36 catches and three touchdowns over his 10 games in San Francisco. Yet 198 of those yards came from just two games: Week 9 against the Arizona Cardinals and Week 14 against the Saints.
Removing those two games, Sanders averaged just 38 yards per contest.
Granted, it’s impossible to quantify Sanders’ presence and influence on the rest of the offense last season, which is why it’s hard to see him leave.
But knowing now the 49ers have a top-15 draft pick to potentially land Sanders’ replacement, as well as not having to spend the money New Orleans is now dishing out to him, this move was a hard one San Francisco absolutely had to make.