The San Francisco 49ers traded third- and fourth-round picks to the Denver Broncos for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and a fifth-round pick on Tuesday.
All picks involved are in the 2020 draft. According to ESPN, the Broncos wanted to keep Sanders for one more week and play him Sunday at Indianapolis, but the 6-0 49ers wanted the wideout to play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Carolina Panthers.
“Emmanuel is a passionate football player whose toughness and competitive nature have helped him become a dynamic playmaker in this league,” San Francisco general manager John Lynch said in a statement.
Denver general manager John Elway confirmed to reporters on a conference call that Sanders wanted a trade, saying, “Emmanuel had issues, and we had issues.” He added that there were “more than two teams” interested in Sanders, with other reports indicating the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Panthers were among them.
Sanders, 32, should be able to learn the 49ers’ playbook quickly, as Denver’s offense is run by former Niners quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, who arrived from Kyle Shanahan’s staff in January.
“Just talking to Rich, he was pretty much telling me it’s the same offense, different concepts, but I’ll be able to pick it up easy,” Sanders told reporters as he was leaving the Broncos’ facility.
Multiple reports said the 49ers were interested in Atlanta Falcons wideout Mohamed Sanu, who was dealt to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick earlier Tuesday. Sanu played for Shanahan in 2016.
In the final year of his contract, Sanders is due $6.03 million over the remainder of the season from the 49ers. The Broncos save that money on their cap, with a $6.9 million dead-money charge remaining.
Through seven games this season, Sanders has 30 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns. The 10th-year veteran spent the last five-plus seasons with the Broncos, totaling 404 receptions for 5,361 yards and 28 touchdowns across 78 games, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2014 and 2016 and winning Super Bowl 50 after the 2015 season.
“We definitely had a great run out here in Denver, had a lot of great times, but obviously all good things come to an end,” Sanders said.
He spent the first four years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted him in the third round out of SMU in 2010.
The 49ers’ leading receiver through six games is tight end George Kittle (34 grabs, 376 yards). No other player has more than 15 receptions, and only two wide receivers — second-round rookie Deebo Samuel (15) and Marquise Goodwin (11) — have at least 10 catches.
At 2-5, the Broncos are expected to consider dealing other veterans before next Tuesday’s trade deadline. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive end Derek Wolfe are each in the final year of their contracts.
Asked if he anticipates other trades, Elway replied, “Possibly, don’t know yet.” He added he has not received interest in Harris “lately.”
“The bottom line is, we’re still trying to win football games,” Elway added. “We’re not throwing in the towel by any means.”
Elway indicated the team will bring back wideout Tim Patrick from injured reserve at some point. Patrick, who broke his hand in Week 1, is eligible to play beginning in Week 9.
That would leave the team one other player to recall from IR this season. Elway said the team is still making a decision on who that will be, but the expectation is the spot will go to rookie quarterback Drew Lock, who is recovering from thumb surgery.
—Field Level Media