Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Maiocco ‘not sure’ Travis Benjamin makes the 49ers roster

Apr 4, 2020 at 10:18 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers offense took a hit this offseason with the departure of Emmanuel Sanders, who signed a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not only was the veteran wide receiver a key contributor down the stretch of the regular season, but he was also a player to whom the younger receivers looked up and from whom they learned a great deal.

"His mindset was just amazing, just going through injuries and everything like that, all that kind of stuff," Kendrick Bourne recently told Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area. "Just learning from that. Route running. I thought his route running was top of the league. Just learning all those little things, taking it from him."

Rookie wideout Deebo Samuel also shared the impact Sanders' presence on the team had this past season.

"Ever since he's been here, you can see kind of things changed a little bit," Samuel said during the week leading to Super Bowl LIV. "We kind of got like a true vet in the room. He's been in the league so long, played in Super Bowls. Kind of like the knowledge that he passed down to us, we kind of don't have a choice but to listen to him."

The 49ers finally announced the signing of wide receiver Travis Benjamin this past week. He isn't viewed as a replacement for Sanders, but more as some added competition for the receiver group this offseason. Maiocco doesn't even believe Benjamin will make it past the final roster cuts.

Laura Britt asked Maiocco if he feels the 49ers receiver group is better or worse following the departure of Sanders and the arrival of Benjamin.

"Far worse. There's no question about it," Maiocco responded. "Emmanuel Sanders was the number one 49ers receiver from the moment he stepped on the field. Yes, Deebo Samuel played very well down the stretch, and they would expect him to get better, but I'm not sure Travis Benjamin makes the team.

"I think he's going to have a very difficult time to make this team, especially if Trent Taylor comes back healthy, if Jalen Hurd comes back healthy.

"But you just can't lose a player like Emmanuel Sanders and expect to be better overnight. There's still a lot of unknowns, a lot of unproven guys in the wide receiving corps. But right now, before the draft — they're going to add somebody in the draft — they're clearly not as good at the wide receiver position."

The 49ers have selected a wide receiver in each of the past 17 drafts. Maiocco expects this to be number 18.

Most mock drafts have San Francisco using the No. 13 overall pick to bolster the receiver position. Going in another direction wouldn't be a shock, either. This is, after all, one of the deepest drafts for receivers in recent history.

It may be too early to say whether or not the 49ers will be better or worse off heading into the 2020 season. But as Maiocco states, for now, it certainly looks worse.

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