Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne separate themselves from the 49ers’ receiver pack

Dec 2, 2019 at 4:13 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of young wide receivers on the roster. Only four of them played during Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Three, Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne, combined for nearly all of the snaps, with Richie James taking part in just two of the offense's 57 total snaps.

Bourne had just 25 snaps against the Ravens yet led the team with 42 receiving yards. Sanders and Samuel weren't that far behind with 41 receiving yards each. Sanders had 56 snaps while Samuel had 55, with the latter catching the lone touchdown among the group.

During training camp and even earlier in the season, head coach Kyle Shanahan was waiting for receivers to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and prove they deserve more opportunities. Shanahan had hoped Dante Pettis, a second-round pick last year, would be among those players, but he has had a disappointing sophomore NFL campaign.

Sanders, a veteran acquired via a trade with the Denver Broncos on October 22, has become one of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's most reliable targets. Samuel is the impressive rookie who is giving defensive coordinators headaches while Bourne may be starting to reach his potential.

Week 13 Snaps Rec Yds TD
E. Sanders 56 4 41 0
D. Samuel 55 2 41 1
K. Bourne 25 3 42 0
R. James 2 0 0 0

Shanahan spoke with reporters via a conference call on Monday and was asked if Sanders, Samuel, and Bourne are the guys who have earned the most opportunities going forward.

"We feel those three guys have earned the right to be out there more than the rest," Shanahan responded. "We feel they have been the most consistent and started playing the best here over the last month or so. So, we have planned to do that more. I don't like how much they went. I think we do have to rotate a little bit more and keep those guys fresh.

"We also have confidence in the other two guys that are there, so we need to use them. Richie (James) came in, and I know made a huge block on Raheem's (Mostert) long touchdown run, and I know [Marquise Goodwin] is ready to go. So, we've got to make sure that we do get them in a little bit more."

It's no surprise that Shanahan didn't mention Pettis. Of course, the young receiver is dealing with a knee injury, did not play against the Ravens, and the head coach didn't sound too optimistic about his availability for Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Pettis appears to have plummeted down the 49ers depth chart. He has just 11 receptions for 109 yards with two touchdowns this season. His reception total ranks No. 5 among San Francisco's wideouts, and he has been mostly a non-factor for the team after what many considered a potential-filled rookie campaign.

As for the rest of the group, it looks like Sanders, Samuel, and even Bourne have become Shanahan's go-to guys this season.

"That has changed here, and it's gotten a little more each week here over the last month," Shanahan continued. "Our three guys that have really started to separate themselves a little bit from the group."

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