Sanu's QB skills could allow Shanahan to get more creative


The Jimmy Garoppolo jokes write themselves. We're not going to go that route. This isn't time for another hot take. It's played out, so we'll wait and see how he does against the lowly New York Jets. 

But recently signed receiver Mohamed Sanu's past success passing the ball could allow Kyle Shanahan to get even more creative with the offensive. And with a hampered George Kittle, no Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk dealing with a hamstring injury, Shanahan might have to dial up some trickery -- even against the Jets. 

Sanu, 31, has 4,507 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns over his eight-year NFL career. He also has four passing touchdowns.

Between his time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons -- he didn't attempt a pass last season as a member of the New England Patriots -- Sanu has completed seven of his eight pass attempts for 233 yards. Sanu is averaging 29.1 yards per attempt, half his pass attempts have resulted in a TD and he has a perfect 158.3 passer rating. 

Kyle Shanahan is well versed in Sanu's skills. The 49ers coach was Sanu's offensive coordinator for the Falcons in 2016, Sanu's first season with the team. Sanu had 59 receptions for 653 receiving yards and four touchdowns that year. But he didn't attempt a single pass in 2016.

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That doesn't mean Shanahan isn't aware of Sanu's arm. The coach has shown a willingness to let a receiver air it out, Sanu's history is about as good as it gets. 49ers receivers -- Dante Pettis and Emmanuel Sanders -- went 2-for-2 for 51 yards and one touchdown last season.


The 49ers badly need a win this Sunday after dropping their season opener to the Arizona Cardinals. All eyes will be on Garoppolo, but Shanahan does have another option to let it fly now.