Emmanuel Sanders reflects on missed connection with Jimmy Garoppolo in 49ers' Super Bowl LIV loss
Sanders was the receiver targeted on Garoppolo's missed throw that would have given the 49ers the lead late in Super Bowl LIV
Emmanuel Sanders put himself in position to win Super Bowl LIV and give the San Francisco 49ers that elusive sixth Super Bowl championship when he got himself open on a post route that would have given the 49ers the lead late in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo couldn't get the throw on target to the arguably wide-open Sanders.
The missed throw completed the 49ers' fourth-quarter collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs, putting Sanders in the middle of one of the greatest "what if" moments in NFL history. If Garoppolo can complete a pass he made all season to Sanders, the 49ers are likely hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy and are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots with six Super Bowl titles.
"I don't know if it's a situation I'll ever get over," Sanders said on FS1's "First Things First" Thursday. "At the end of the day, it is what it is. It's nothing I can control, you kind of got to let it go."
While Sanders did his job in getting open, Garoppolo overthrew the veteran receiver on an X-post that would have given San Francisco the lead with 1:49 to play. The 49ers were trailing 24-20 when the missed throw occurred.
"I would be lying to you if I haven't been out on the football field and told a quarterback to give me a post route and simulated me catching it and running into the end zone, envisioning scoring that game-winning touchdown," Sanders said. "That right there could have been a legendary moment for me and Jimmy, but unfortunately it didn't happen. Instead of walking into airports and stores and people saying 'Great catch man, you're a legend.' Now they say, 'Aw man, you were this close.'
"Hopefully I don't go down as 'this close,' and hopefully we can change that this year (with the Saints). That's a play that will forever be in my mind."
Sanders had a smile throughout the whole interview, but the opportunity to be a Super Bowl hero had to eat up inside. He had just three catches for 38 yards in Super Bowl LIV, the third Super Bowl appearance he made with his third different team. After catching 66 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games with the 49ers and Denver Broncos last season. Sanders departed for New Orleans in free agency -- signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Saints.
While Sanders won't get over the Super Bowl LIV loss, he has a chance for redemption with the Saints. Helping Drew Brees earn his second Super Bowl title could be enough to cap an excellent career for the two-time Pro Bowl wideout.
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