Receiver Mohamed Sanu‘s career fell off a cliff after being traded from the Falcons to the Patriots for a second-round pick during the 2019 regular season. Now in his second stint with the 49ers after being released last year, Sanu could be on the verge of a career rebirth.
Signed last year by the 49ers, the team cut him fairly quickly, apparently due in large part to the lingering effects of a high ankle sprain suffered during the 2019 season, after the trade to New England. Signed again in the offseason, a different Sanu is competing for a spot on the 53-man roster.
“Sanu told us he was good to go and we believed him,” Shanahan said, via the Associated Press. “And we got him here in OTAs and we could see it. I think you ask our players and anybody who’s watched him here, it looks like the guy I remember, and not the guy that we had for that week and a half or whatever it was.”
Sanu and Shanahan worked together in Atlanta. They could now be renewing that relationship in games that count come September.
“I just love the team and organization,” Sanu said, per the AP. “I knew it wasn’t anything personal and I knew how everything was planned out. I wasn’t at my best, still coming off that ankle injury, getting all the way back to myself.”
Like Emmanuel Sanders before Sanu, the veteran has had an impact on the team’s talented young receivers.
“I love Mo,” Brandon Aiyuk said, via the AP. “Mo is somebody that I gravitated toward early, from the first day he came into the building last season.”
“Me and [Aiyuk] were kind of upset last year when they cut Sanu because he was the vet in the room,” Deebo Samuel said. “He’d been in there for a while. He teaches us the ins and outs of the game, not only just football.”
A dozen receivers currently are on the team, but if Sanu is healthy he could easily snag the No. 3 or No. 4 spot on the final depth chart, with Aiyuk and Samuel the likely starters. Other veterans competing for the final roster include Travis Benjamin and Jordan Matthews. The 49ers also hope to finally get a return on Jalen Hurd, a third-round pick in 2019 and who has not played in two NFL seasons.