The 49ers probably ended up regretting letting these people go after successful careers in San Francisco.
The San Francisco 49ers were forced to make some tough decisions during the 2020 offseason. While the team was able to retain some key defensive contributors, namely defensive end Arik Armstead and safety Jimmie Ward, keeping those two ultimately came at the cost of trading away Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and letting the Niners’ No. 1 wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, walk in free agency.
In the modern-era age of the salary cap, these are the kinds of choices every team, particularly those on the cusp of winning a Super Bowl, typically have to make. By parting ways with Buckner and Sanders, general manager John Lynch and Co. are hoping to sustain long-term continuity instead of having gone “all in” for one Super Bowl shot.
The problem, however, is parting ways with players too soon doesn’t always go according to plan.
In many cases, those players who wind up departing, whether via trade or free agency, can come back to haunt the original team letting them go.
Unfortunately, San Francisco isn’t immune to this and has made some choices which ultimately didn’t go its way over the long haul. In the immediate future, the Niners wide receiver corps and defensive line must play well enough to overcome both players’ losses.
Heading into 2020, there’s the hope letting both Buckner and Sanders go winds up being the correct decision. Going through the archives, however, there are instances where the 49ers made the wrong decisions about players sticking around.
Niner Noise looks at five former players whom the Niners would have been better off keeping.