The 49ers gave up a third- and fourth-round pick to land receiver Emmanuel Sanders. They had him for only 10 regular-season games and three playoff games. But that was enough to make an impact on the rest of the team’s receivers.
“He’s a living testament to what we want to be,” receiver Kendrick Bourne told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Everything he does, how he acts off the field, you know it’s the proper way to do it because he’s been doing it for 11 years now. So there’s no doubt that it works.”
“He was always trying to teach us, me, Deebo and Dante and us, ‘Do this,'” Bourne said. “‘This is the better way,’ rather than keeping it to himself.
“He’s benefiting all of us being in the room because he’s vocal,” Bourne added. “He’s a real leader, a physical leader. He does what he’s supposed to do in all aspects. That’s how you know why he’s played this long, and why he will play another three more years.”
This year, Sanders will play Bourne and the 49ers, when San Francisco visits New Orleans. Bourne clearly intends to show up for that game and all others with a higher level of fitness, as inspired by Sanders.
“The biggest thing with Emmanuel for me was just his conditioning and how long he can stay in the game,” Bourne said. “It was really impressive to me because I know if I’m in for like four plays, I’ll be like huffing and puffing a little bit. . . . Emmanuel didn’t have a governor. He could be out there seven plays in a row. I’ve been focusing this offseason to where when I hit that wall, but I still got two more plays left in me.”
Thus, although the 49ers won’t see a compensatory draft pick for Sanders until next year, there’s a lingering influence from Sanders that will help them get more out of the guys who remain with the team.