NEW ORLEANS — Midway through the second quarter of the 49ers' 48-46 win over the Saints, coach Kyle Shanahan dialed up a little “trickeration” that completely fooled the New Orleans defense.
Jimmy Garoppolo took the snap and handed off the ball to rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who in turn pitched it back to Emmanuel Sanders. Under pressure by Saints linebacker Craig Robertson, Sanders chucked the ball up 35 yards towards the right sideline into the open hands of Raheem Mostert who ran it the remaining 14 yards to the end zone.
Sanders admitted that the offense installed the play during their week of practice at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He also revealed that it wasn’t always Raheem Mostert on the receiving end of the pass like it was today.
“We ran it like five times,” Sanders said. “The last time we ran it I actually threw a duck. I was like ‘Man, don’t throw a duck in the game because that’s going to be on ESPN Not Top 10.’ I was able to execute it today.”
It’s not the first time Sanders has thrown a touchdown pass in a game. In Week 7 of 2018, when the veteran receiver was with the Broncos, he the lobbed a 28-yard pass to Courtland Sutton for a score. It was similarly to the right side of the field.
“Today it was a lot of pressure,” Sanders said. “I had the d-end chase me so I just threw it up pretty much. It was one of the plays when I went into this game, I was like ‘Please be a touchdown’ so it feels good to be standing here.”
Sanders finished the game with seven receptions on nine targets for 157 yards and two touchdowns, one receiving and one passing. Of those yards, 132 were accumulated in the first half as the 49ers offense got off to a quick start.
Sanders has been exactly the playmaker the 49ers needed on the offense to take pressure off of tight end George Kittle. The 49ers traded a third and fourth-round pick to the Broncos for the receiver but it has definitely paid dividends so far this season.
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While it was a jubilant win for the 49ers, Sanders said the rollercoaster ride of a game completely exhausted him both emotionally and physically. He admitted that he has never been so excited for a five-hour plane ride to get some rest. Even through the fatigue, Sanders smiled gleemed as he compared his touchdown pass to the score he caught.
“Throwing it is even sweeter because it’s something that you don’t do,” Sander said, “Truthful, just standing up here, I don’t even feel like I even threw a touchdown pass. I’m just happy we won.”