Emmanuel Sanders may not be walking through that door this season for the 49ers.
But at later dates after next week’s trading deadline, the 49ers expect to add a running back (Raheem Mostert), a wide receiver (Deebo Samuel), a tight end (Jordan Reed), and maybe even some key defensive players (Ronald Blair, Dee Ford and Richard Sherman) to their roster.
The 49ers are jammed against the salary cap with less space than any team in the NFL.
Taking on additional salary would leave the team in a bad place for the future with a shrinking cap and a lot of players who are unsigned for next season.
General manager John Lynch, speaking Friday morning on KNBR’s "Murph & Mac Show," said the 49ers are more inclined to seek under-the-radar moves at Tuesday’s trading deadline that do not put the organization in a cap bind.
“We’re fairly restricted, but we are always looking,” Lynch said. “We’re always trying to improve our team. So, believe me, we’re working hard to see anything that might fit.”
The 49ers this week completed a trade with the New York Jets in which they acquired edge rusher Jordan Willis and a 2021 seventh-round draft pick for a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2022 draft.
Willis will be in uniform and make his 49ers debut Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, Lynch said.
“I don’t anticipate right now anything big like the Emmanuel Sanders deal last year,” Lynch said. “And, yes, that is because we’re somewhat restricted. Also, we’ve used 70 players on our active roster this year.
“You come in with a salary cap, and then you eat into that, and you also have to understand that everything we do this year affects next year. Because of the pandemic, the cap is going to be way down. I think it’s forcing everyone, particularly, the teams that are pressing that cap to be very guarded in what they do.”
The 49ers also might not feel the desperation of last year to swing a big trade because of the players expected to return to action in the coming weeks from injured reserve.
The 49ers have more than a dozen players on injured reserve and physically unable to perform, but only defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and Ziggy Ansah are known to be out for the season.
“We’re always looking and working hard to see if there’s something that can make us better,” Lynch said. “Otherwise, we really like our group. Internally, we have guys coming back. If we can slow the rate of guys going to that injured list, we think internally we’re going to get a big boost late in this year.”