Emmanuel Sanders waved goodbye to the 49ers when he agreed to sign a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Friday.
The 33-year-old was a valuable part of the 49ers' run to Super Bowl LIV. While he had said he was interested in staying in the Bay, ultimately the Saints presented an offer and an opportunity that was impossible for Sanders to turn down.
Sanders took to Instagram on Saturday to thank the 49ers Faithful, his teammates and coaches for the memorable four-month run in Santa Clara.
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Four months is all I had with the Niners faithful and it was some of the best times of my life. Thank you guys for embracing me from the moment I stepped into Levi stadium. Your energy is contagious and it matched so well with mine. To my teammates, coaches and the whole niners organization- Thank you for the love and real ness you showed me day in and day out. There was never a time that I didn’t want to go to work. The laughter and good times we had I’ll never forget. Love all of you guys! - 17
Linebacker Kwon Alexander said goodbye to his now-former teammate via Twitter when the news broke.
After coming over in a midseason trade from the Denver Broncos, Sanders became a vital part of the 49ers' offense. He trailed only tight end George Kittle and rookie receiver Deebo Samuel in receptions and yardage after his arrival. Sanders also played a big role in the growth of the 49ers' young wide receivers, especially Samuel.
His 49ers' tenure almost ended with him as a Super Bowl hero. With the 49ers trailing by four late in Super Bowl LIV, Sanders beat his man off the line and flew past the safety. All that was left was for Jimmy Garoppolo to put the ball on the money. But the pass sailed long, clanging to the turf past the outstretched hands of Sanders, sealing the 49ers' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sanders' contract with the Saints reportedly is for two years and up to $19 million. He also was fielding offers from the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
With Sanders gone, the 49ers now will turn their attention to the 2020 NFL Draft, where they should be able to snag an elite receiver at No. 13 to overall to fill the void left by Sanders.