As learned last season, John Lynch is not afraid to pull the trigger on a veteran to shore up his receiver situation.
The 49ers sent third- and fourth-round picks to Denver for Emmanuel Sanders who, when healthy, brought a different element to an already dynamic offense.
Although it’s been just one game into 2020, the 49ers quickly find themselves in a similar situation. They need receivers.
They signed veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu on Tuesday, but they shouldn't stop there.
Deebo Samuel is out for at least the next two weeks with a lingering Jones fracture in his foot. Brandon Aiyuk is dealing with a hamstring problem. Both injuries are known to be among the most unpredictable ailments in football.
At full strength, the 49ers’ offense would be fine. Kyle Shanahan hand-picked Samuel and Aiyuk to be his one-two combo. So far, there’s no indication that the pair isn’t capable of being that.
But the 49ers cannot afford to wait around and hope, at least this season.
Sunday’s loss had a lot to do with play-calling and Jimmy Garoppolo’s inability to hit his occasionally open receivers.
But what would have fixed that, and taken a lot of pressure off the sporadic Garoppolo, was having a veteran receiver who knows how to work defenses and get the ball.
No, there are no more DeAndre Hopkinses available, and the 49ers should not go down the Antonio Brown road … yet. But there is one veteran that should be available, and for a similar price that Lynch paid for Sanders.
Detroit receiver Marvin Jones is in the last year of his contract, and the 49ers should at least inquire about his price.
Jones, a nine-year NFL veteran out of Cal, would be the perfect addition to an inexperienced receiving corp hungry for a leader.
Unlike seemingly every healthy 49ers receiver, Jones is not limited to the slot.
He’s a big-play threat and first-down machine from the outside. He caught 41 first downs and averaged 12.6 yards a reception in 2019 (14.5 in his career). He’s also averaged over 55 yards per game each of the last five years.
Jones would also provide a solid red zone threat. Eight of his nine touchdowns in 2019 were in the red zone.
One drawback would be Jones’ health. He missed three games in 2019 and seven in 2018.
But health questions didn’t scare Lynch off Sanders, who was coming off a torn Achilles and missed four games in each of his previous two seasons.
The question becomes what would the 49ers have to give up.
Additionally, the Lions should be willing to offload expiring contracts as they’re likely a year away from contending.
After blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead against Mitchell Trubisky to lose Week 1, the Lions would be wise to acquire any assets to improve their 2021 outlook. They also have young receivers capable of jumping into Jones’ vacated spot.
Kenny Golladay is a top-15 receiver who missed Sunday. Rookie Quintez Cephus started in his place and caught three passes for 43 yards. They wouldn’t exactly be punting the season away if they traded Jones.
Maybe a fourth-round pick and one of San Francisco’s former high draft picks in need of a change of scenery (Dante Pettis or Ahkello Witherspoon?) could sweeten the pot.
If that doesn’t work, maybe trade their 2021 second rounder for Jones and one of those magical fifth-round picks Lynch and Shanahan love.
NFL title windows are hard to project. That’s why the 49ers went all in on Sanders last season. If a wide receiver is what’s keeping this team from returning to last year’s form, a second-round pick should not prevent that.
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