Just over a week ago, Emmanuel Sanders was catching passes from an aging Joe Flacco on a sub-.500 Denver Broncos unit going nowhere fast. One trade and two games later, Sanders is the focal point of a San Francisco 49ers offense piloted by Jimmy Garoppolo in the prime of his career, leading his club to its eighth win in eight tries.
"This is one of those games that Jimmy had a coming-out party for me," Sanders told reporters after the win. "I'm looking forward to continuously gain chemistry with him and getting better and better. The sky is the limit."
Sanders found himself on the receiving end of some of Garoppolo's best throws of the night, on which the QB anticipated Sanders' route and break so well that the ball was in the veteran's hands right when he turned around. One third-quarter pass had Sanders, with Patrick Peterson on his hip, marveling at Garoppolo's ability.
"It was one of those throws that you know, obviously I made the play, but I couldn't even take the credit, I couldn't pound my chest because I just had to point at Jimmy," Sanders said. "It was just so easy. Literally I turned my head and the ball like fell in my lap. Jimmy was on fire tonight."
Garoppolo was similarly complimentary of his new favorite target, who caught more passes (7) and racked up more yards (112) on Thursday than any Niners wide receiver had in a game all season.
"He's picking things up very quickly, coming from a similar offense, I've said this before. Just his body language on routes, I can kind of anticipate what he's going to do," Garoppolo said. "I think we've got room for improvement but I'm pretty happy with where we're at."
The QB continued his gushing on Sanders later in his postgame presser: "He's saavy. He knows what to do, he feels space when it's zone and he beats the guy when it's man. It's a nice combination. He's so smart that he does things that as a QB you love to see and it makes it easy on you to throw the ball to him."
Sanders was making things easy on Flacco and the Broncos offense just nine days ago before Denver traded him and a fifth-rounder to San Francisco in exchange for a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Two games, two touchdowns and two wins into his time with the Niners, San Francisco is surely considering that dearly departed parted capital money well spent.
The 32-year-old wideout is enjoying the change of scenery as well, already buying into the Jimmy G experience, on and off the field.
"I think it's just energy. A lot of positive energy. You know how Jimmy is. He still has his Eastern Illinois backpack," Sanders said of Garoppolo's attraction. "He's young, but at the same time, the sky is the limit. In his head, he wants to be great."
The Niners were already good without Sanders, but now, as with Garoppolo, they can aspire to be great with the veteran WR in tow. The performance the pair put on Thursday night is proof of that possibility.