49ers Called an Option for Recently Released 7-Time Pro Bowler

Julio Jones

Getty Julio Jones lasted one season with the Titans, officially released on Wednesday, March 16.

Decorated NFL players with more than five Pro Bowl appearances on their resume are sometimes available options during the month of March when free agency kicks off. And the San Francisco 49ers get tacked on as a possible suitor.

Especially when it’s two things: Their familiarity with the 49ers’ system and the chance for the 49ers themselves to make up for a past lost opportunity.

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That’s where newly released seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones comes in, as his one season with the Tennessee Titans has officially come to an end on Wednesday, March 16.

Jones’ Fit With the 49ers

The chatter of a Jones and 49ers potential pairing has begun.

NBC Sports Bay Area columnist Josh Schrock is one who wrote on Wednesday about the Bay Area becoming a strong possible landing spot for the highly-decorated 33-year-old wide receiver.

“A year after they were quickly priced out of the trade talks for Julio Jones, the 49ers might finally get their shot to bring the two-time All-Pro to the Bay Area,” Schrock wrote.

Schrock also revisited a time when Kyle Shanahan himself gushed over the talent Jones had. Shanahan would know, having served as Jones’ offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons during Jones’ two most dominating seasons as a Pro: The 2015 season that saw Jones catch a career-best 136 passes for 1,871 yards and 2016 when he hit 1,409 yards in 14 starts. But Shanahan at the time believed that building a roster for the future made it difficult for the 49ers to trade for Jones.

“Yeah, I mean, I think the simple, like you said, no one in the world doesn’t want a guy like that,” Shanahan said last year. “I mean, everyone knows the player he is. But it’s not as simple as that. You’ve got to build a team, and it’s not just year to year, you’ve got to build it for the future. And, you know, you just think about how hard it is going into drafts. You know, you never know what you’re going to be able to do in free agency, who you’re going to lose, who you’re going to be able to bring in. You’ve got lots of guys on one-year contracts, things like that.”

Times, though, are much different for Jones.

What Jones Now Has Right in Front of Him

With his release from the Titans, Jones is officially free to sign with any team.

Originally according to Spotrac, Jones wasn’t set to become an unrestricted free agent until 2026. But here’s what Tennessee clears up by releasing Jones:

Jones’ one season with the Titans saw career lows across the board according to Pro Football Reference: Catching just 31 passes for 434 yards and scoring just once. With that recent production, plus his age, he may not be in high financial demand, or high demand by teams in general.

But there are 49er fans who would more than love to welcome Jones into the 49ers as he would pair alongside All-Pros Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

There’s this additional comparison to a similar move the 49ers made years ago with another decorated wide receiver, who eventually helped get the 49ers back to the Super Bowl during the 2012 season:

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But should the 49ers pursue Jones, they could face competition from a franchise featuring a Pro Bowler who shares an Alabama Crimson Tide connection with the receiver: The Las Vegas Raiders, with running back Josh Jacobs giving this reaction:

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