Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Why did the 49ers release Mohamed Sanu and not ... someone else?

Oct 6, 2020 at 5:41 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers surprisingly parted ways with Mohamed Sanu today. It was surprising because the veteran wide receiver spent just 18 days with the team before being told his services were no longer necessary.

One person who was shocked and seemingly unhappy about the move was Sanu's now-former teammate, rookie Brandon Aiyuk. The first-year receiver shared his disappointment via Twitter but later deleted the post.

Here is it from our friends over at @TheSFNiners.

The 49ers have Richie James Jr. slated to return from injured reserve after he missed three games due to a hamstring injury. The team has an excess of receivers. So why choose to release Sanu, who was the team's most experienced NFL receiver, over some other names?

Matt Barrows tackled that question in his most recent mailbag for The Athletic while noting that neither James nor Dante Pettis has caught a pass this season. Sanu, at least, had one reception in his three game appearances and has served as a mentor for younger players like Aiyuk (thus the disappointment) during his short time with the team.

"For one, Sanu didn't play any special teams, a significant factor when determining which non-starting receiver is active on game days," explained Barrows. "James and Pettis both can return punts. Secondly, James and Pettis are former draft picks and the 49ers aren't going to merely give away a former draft pick."

Sanu seemed content with doing whatever the 49ers asked of him.

"I just want to help out any way I can, for real," Sanu said two weeks ago. "We have a lot of talented young guys that just need some leadership. I feel like I can help in any way possible, whether it's making plays or showing them how to make plays in critical situations because a lot of those guys are going to play and make key plays for our team."

San Francisco still has a surplus of receivers on the roster. 49ers wide receivers hauled in eight total passes for 86 yards on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. By comparison — and maybe not a fair comparison — George Kittle caught 15 passes for 183 yards. Although, that was a historically great performance from the All-Pro tight end.

Kendrick Bourne leads the 49ers wide receivers this season with 13 catches for 197 yards.

There is also the possibility that we haven't seen the last of Sanu in red and gold, given how injuries have plagued the team this season.

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