What to expect from Sanu in 49ers debut against Jets


Mohamed Sanu signed a one-year contract with the 49ers on Tuesday, but won't be able to participate in his first practice with the team until Friday at the earliest. That obviously doesn't leave him with much time to get acclimated to his new situation before San Francisco takes on the New York Jets on Sunday.

Sanu, however, has two things working in his favor. Now in his ninth NFL season with 118 career games under his belt, his ample experience should expedite whatever learning curve exists. And, having played for Kyle Shanahan for one season with the Atlanta Falcons, the 49ers coach surely already knows what Sanu is capable of.

So, what can we expect from Sanu on Sunday against the Jets? NBC Sports' Chris Simms believes he'll be able to contribute right away.

"I think you'll see him involved," Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area. "Now, listen, Mohamed Sanu is not the player that Kyle Shanahan had in Atlanta, where I would go, 'Ooh, Mohamed Sanu, that's one of the best No. 2 receivers in all of football.' That's what I would have been saying about him three, four years ago. The play has dropped off. There's a reason the Falcons traded him and there's a reason the New England Patriots -- who traded a second-round pick -- released him. But ... there is system familiarity. 

"He is dependable, he's strong, he has got good hands, he's fearless over the middle. Shanahan loves to throw the ball to the receivers over the middle off of play-action pass, so he's going to bring that element. And Mohamed Sanu will block in the run game, and that's another thing that's gonna help out, because when you play for Kyle Shanahan, your receivers better be ready to do some dirty work and help these running backs spring the big ones or whatever else it may be."

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Though it's not the same situation, Sanu's arrival potentially could provide the 49ers with a similar boost to the one they experienced upon trading for Emmanuel Sanders last season. However, Simms suggests tempering those expectations -- for Sunday, at least.

"So I think that's going to be his value," Simms continued. "Just a guy that (Shanahan) can depend on, he knows what to do, he's tough, he's a true football player, but don't expect big plays out of him or 100 yards receiving. I would be shocked if we got to that type of number or anything like that."

The 49ers are just trying to keep their heads above water while waiting for numerous key players to return from injury. Sanu might not win your fantasy matchup this week, but he can help them do that.