Panthers vs 49ers, Emmanuel Sanders arrived at the San Francisco 49ers’ facility on Wednesday, a day after he was traded from the Denver Broncos. While the Broncos received third and fourth-round picks in next year’s draft, the 49ers received a 2020 fifth-round pick and — much more importantly — a receiver that they hope is the final piece to their championship puzzle.
On Friday, NFL Network’s MJ Acosta reported that Sanders, per 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, will play “a lot” this Sunday against the visiting Carolina Panthers. Acosta said that Sanders, a 10-year veteran, received a “crash course, an expedited version into the 49ers’ offense” during his short time with the team.
Speaking to Sanders following Friday’s practice, Acosta said that Sanders credited Shanahan with helping him learn the playbook. He added that the 49ers’ playbook is similar to the one that Sanders played under in Denver under Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who served as Shanahan’s quarterback coach in San Francisco the previous two seasons.
Sanders added that he is excited to go up against a Carolina defense that includes five-time All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback James Bradberry, who leads the Panthers with three interceptions and nine pass breakups this season. In their last game, a Week 6 thumping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina’s defense picked off Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston five times while forcing seven turnovers.
Sunday’s game will feature two of the NFL’s best teams. San Francisco one of two teams, with the New England Patriots, that remain undefeated. The 49ers, undefeated through six games for the first time since 1990, currently boast the NFL’s second-ranked rushing attack and second-ranked scoring defense, allowing an average of just 10.7 points per game. Sanders, who is off to a solid start this season after his 2018 season ended with a serious Achilles injury, will look to improve a San Francisco passing attack that is currently ranked 25th in the NFL.
The Panthers, winners of four straight games after an 0-2 start, have allowed the eighth fewest passing yards in the league entering Sunday’s game. The defense has been complemented by an offense that is ranked fifth in scoring behind the inspired play of backup quarterback Kyle Allen, who is 4-0 as a starter this season entering Sunday’s game.
Ironically, Sanders’ greatest moment in the NFL occurred against the Panthers at the end of the 2015 season. In Super Bowl 50, Sanders led both teams with six catches for 83 yards while helping Denver defeat Carolina, 24-10. Sanders will look to have a similar impact on Sunday’s game while getting his 49ers career off to a good start in the process.