SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers‘ search for reinforcements to their banged-up receiving corps resulted in a reunion for coach Kyle Shanahan.
The Niners agreed to terms on a one-year deal with veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday, a move that Shanahan hinted at during his Monday news conference. Mike McCartney, Sanu’s agent, announced the agreement on Twitter.
“We’ll see how these injuries go, but I love Sanu,” Shanahan said Monday. “He’s a hell of a player, so him being out there is always a possibility … I wouldn’t rule that out at all. He’s available and he’s definitely a guy I really respect and I think everyone in this league respects. So, we’ll see how it goes this week.”
Sanu is expected to arrive Tuesday night at the Niners’ facility, where he can then begin going through the COVID-19 testing protocols. If there are no issues, the earliest he could practice with the team is Friday.
But Sanu could still contribute right away because of his familiarity with Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan served as Sanu’s offensive coordinator when both were with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. That season, Sanu finished with 59 receptions for 653 yards and four touchdowns.
Sanu’s knowledge of Shanahan’s offense undoubtedly made him a preferred target, as the Niners have just three other healthy receivers — Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor — on the roster, which means they could need Sanu to play right away.
Top wideout Deebo Samuel (foot) is on injured reserve and can’t return until the week of the Oct. 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the earliest. Richie James Jr. is dealing with a hamstring injury that makes his status for this week uncertain.
In addition to Sanu, the Niners hope to have rookie Brandon Aiyuk this week as he returns from a hamstring injury. Shanahan said Monday he would “be surprised” if Aiyuk is unable to play in Week 2.
The New England Patriots released Sanu before the season after trading a second-round pick to Atlanta to acquire him just before the 2019 trade deadline. Sanu finished with 59 catches for 520 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games with the Falcons and Patriots last season.
A native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Sanu will get the chance to play in his home state in each of the next two weeks. The Niners play the New York Jets on Sunday, then travel to the Greenbrier Resort in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, for a week of practice before returning to MetLife Stadium for a Week 3 game against the New York Giants.
In his nine-year career split among the Cincinnati Bengals, the Falcons and the Patriots, Sanu has 403 receptions for 4,507 yards and 26 touchdowns.