How 49ers receivers learn from each other regardless of NFL experience

How 49ers receivers learn from each other regardless of NFL experience

MIAMI, Fla. -- The 49ers have a great balance in their wide receivers room, where each player learns from one another no matter how much experience they have.

Emmanuel Sanders, 32, is the oldest of the bunch, joined by rookie Deebo Samuel, 23, Kendrick Bourne and Richie James, both 24. Wide receivers coach Wes Welker and offensive quality control coach Miles Austin, who played a combined 22 NFL seasons, believe that each player brings elements to the table that the entire group can benefit from, whether they're a veteran or rookie.

Samuel has made a lot of strides as a rookie, but he has been good at running through the catch since Day 1, setting an example for the 49ers' receiving corps. 

“Deebo probably does it better than everybody,” Austin said Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night at Marlins Park. “A lot of times when you’re running to catch the ball, a lot of guys leave their feet to slow their eyes down and catch it. But if you can keep your feet and stay heavy on the ground through the catch, that’s [where you] can kind of create some separation on the run.

“Deebo does a good job of staying low and heavy to the ground, running through the ball catching it clean, and everyone kind of learns from each other." 

Samuel picked up more yards after the catch (473) than any other 49ers wide receiver during the regular season. That was the 13th-most in the NFL and second overall on San Francisco, behind star tight end George Kittle (602). 

Welker even said Samuel's ability to keep plays alive has rubbed off on Sanders. 

“He’s always working on his craft. even this many years in," Welker said. "I think it’s something that we talk about a bit in attacking the ball and catching with your hands, and he’s always trying to evolve and always trying to get better, and I think he sees that as a part of his game that he wants to get better at. Something you see off to the side he’s always working on.” 

Sanders is learning from his younger teammates as much as they're learning from him, according to Welker. The development goes both ways. 

“E-man is a consummate pro,” Welker said. “He knows how to practice, he plays big in big games and just him bringing his [experience] into the locker room -- and essentially the receiver room -- just rubs off on everyone the right way. He’s a pro and a lot of guys obviously look up to him, and rightfully so. We’re lucky to have him.” 

Sometimes honing in on the details can be tough on a rookie, especially in a system as complex as coach Kyle Shanahan’s. But Samuel has grown over the season, his productivity rising after Sanders' arrival in a midseason trade. 

The rookie finished the regular season with 57 receptions (on 81 targets) for 802 yards and three receiving touchdowns, picking up 634 of those yards after Sanders joined the 49ers. Samuel also ran for 159 yards on 14 carries and scored three more touchdowns, typically off a jet sweep.

“He’s made of the right stuff,” Austin said of Samuel. “He brings the right energy to work every day. He handles criticism well. He always bounces back. Even if he might mess up, he handles it, he corrects it and he gets better the next time.”

[RELATED: How Shanahan-Belichick bond developed after Super Bowl LI] 

The 49ers receivers have one more chance to learn from one another this season when San Francisco squares off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LIV. No 49ers receiver has more than five receptions in the playoffs, with the team heavily relying on the running game. 

But if the group is called into action against the Chiefs, Welker and Austin know that Samuel, Sanders and Co. are up to the challenge. 

Why Marquise Goodwin, 49ers parting ways this offseason makes sense

Why Marquise Goodwin, 49ers parting ways this offseason makes sense

Marquise Goodwin led the 49ers with a career-high 962 receiving yards in 2017. Since then, he has just 581 yards combined in two seasons.

The 29-year-old wide receiver is under contract for the next two seasons, but a change of scenery this offseason could benefit both him and the 49ers.

Through injuries and off-field adversity, Goodwin has played in just 20 regular-season games the last two years. He clearly has fallen down coach Kyle Shanahan's depth chart, and the 49ers parting ways with the seven-year NFL veteran this offseason would give him more time to chase a dream away from the gridiron.

"The Niners would save a little less than $4 million on the salary cap by parting ways with Goodwin, and it would also allow Goodwin, a world-class long jumper, to follow through on his intention to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo," ESPN's Nick Wagoner recently wrote.

Goodwin was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 10 after dealing with multiple knee and foot issues. Though his time with the 49ers might come to an end, Goodwin clearly still believes in himself.

The 49ers' receiving corps likely will be led by Deebo Samuel next season after he opened eyes as a rookie. Kendrick Bourne is expected back as a restricted free agent, and Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor are returning from injuries.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

The 49ers likely will target a receiver in the draft, as this year's class is loaded. They also could look at adding a veteran in free agency or bringing back Emmanuel Sanders, whom they acquired in a mid-season trade.

Goodwin is on the outside looking in after hauling in just 12 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown over nine games last season. Sometimes, change is best for both parties.

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

The 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they are extremely short on selections this year after that. 

San Francisco has just one pick in the top 150. After the first round, the 49ers won't be on the clock again until the fifth round. They own two fifth-round picks, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. 

Between the second and fifth rounds, it's completely barren for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. But NBC Sports' Peter King looked at how San Francisco could accrue more selections this April

Here's what King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column. 

To project the Niners’ path, I looked north for a clue. The arch-rival Seahawks, with ever-restless GM John Schneider, provided an excellent example in 2019 of how to turn one first-round pick into a bevy of picks, replenishing what would have been a thin crop.

The trades:

Seattle traded its first-round pick, 21st overall, to Green Bay for the 30th, 114th and 118th picks.
Seattle traded the 30th pick to the Giants for the 37th, 132nd and 142nd picks.
Seattle traded the 37th pick to Carolina for the 47th and 77th picks. At 47, Seattle picked S Marquise Blair.
Seattle traded the 77th and 118th picks to New England for the 64th pick. At 64, Seattle selected WR DK Metcalf.
Seattle traded the 114th pick to Minnesota for the 120th and 204th picks.
Seattle picked WR Gary Jennings Jr. at 120, S Ugo Amadi at 132, LB Ben Burr-Kiven at 142, and RB Travis Homer at 204.

So Seattle turned pick 21 into picks 47, 64, 120, 132, 142 and 204 ... two second-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick and one sixth-round pick.

The 49ers lost their second-round pick when they acquired defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason. They then lost their third- and fourth-round picks when they acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos.

But they added a fifth-round pick in the Sanders trade and a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions in a 2018 trade where they shipped away linebacker Eli Harold.

[RELATED: 49ers in good shape at QB entering the 2020 offseason]

The 49ers don't have too many holes on their roster after losing to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. However, depth is always a must, as they learned this season. With Jimmie Ward being an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers could target a safety early in the draft. They also likely will have their eyes on a loaded receiver class and depth on the interior offensive line. 

To add picks, though, they might have to take a lesson from their biggest rivals.