When wide receiver Mohmaed Sanu was cut by the San Francisco 49ers early in the 2020 season, fellow receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk were disappointed to lose a mentor, but Sanu understood. Sanu had one catch in three games for San Francisco before being released in October.
“I’m a football player and I have common sense, too,” Sanu said after Friday’s training camp practice.”I’m a realist. If I was at my best and they cut me, then I would have been [upset]. But I wasn’t. And I knew that. So I had to go and get right and take advantage of the next opportunity.”
The 49ers re-signed the veteran wide receiver this past March, and three days into training camp, Sanu looks more like the 2018 receiver who had 66 catches for 838 yards. Or as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said, “He’s looking f***ing good, man…[E]xcuse the language…” Excused.
When the 49ers traded for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in 2019 – they tried to get Sanu but the New England Patriots won out – Sanders provided leadership to a young wide receiver group. Sanu did that in his short 2020 stint with team.
“He was like the vet in the room,” Samuel said. “He’d been there for a while. He teaches us the ins-and-outs of the game. Not only just football. But kind of like if Emmanuel [Sandlers] was here, that’s what we have here with Sanu…”
Soon after the trade to the Patriots, Manu had a high ankle sprain, which had a drastic affect on his production.
“I shouldn’t have played on it,” Sanu said. “But I was traded for a second-round pick. I just wanted to show, ‘Hey, you guys have a tough competitor who’s going to do everything he can to compete for you.’ That ended up backfiring.”
Earlier this spring, Sanu called head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2016.
“I have a good relationship with Mo,” Shanahan said. “So, usually he’s just going to call me and send me video of him in his backyard, whatever it is, to show me that he’s in shape. Usually when he tells me, I can tell when he’s confident and when he knows he might need a couple of weeks. That’s a big difference, but I’m just talking to him over the summer. I saw him last last year when we had to let him go, which put some worry on it. But when a guy you know and a guy you respect calls you and you trust them, then you give an opportunity. And he came in and he was everything he said.”