49ers Shanahan Reacts With Relief to Julio Jones Blockbuster Trade

Julio Jones

Getty Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons.

After much speculation, the San Francisco 49ers will not be the new home of All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones.

The news became official on Sunday, June 6, when it was announced that the former Atlanta Falcons wideout was on his way to the Tennessee Titans.

Ian Rapoport, of the NFL Network, reported that the trade includes at least a second-round pick for the Falcons in return.

Earlier reports suggested Atlanta was searching for a first-rounder in exchange for Jones, one of the game’s most prolific wideouts. That asking price made the prospect of Jones to the 49ers less likely, as San Francisco dealt multiple first-round selections to the Miami Dolphins in order to move up and pick rookie quarterback Trey Lance third overall in this year’s NFL Draft.

However, a second-round pick appears to be a price the 49ers could have paid. The team also had the salary cap space this season to fit Jones and his $15 million-plus price tag into the roster. The wide receiver also presents a reasonable cap number each of the next two years, at salaries just over $11.5 million both seasons.

How hard San Francisco pushed to acquire Jones, or if they were ever close to a deal, remains unclear.

Shanahan Expresses Relief Over Jones to Titans

Kyle Shanahan

GettyKyle Shanahan coaches during Super Bowl LIV.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan heard the news that Jones was on his way to Tennessee on Sunday while serving as Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway.

When reporters covering the event asked Shanahan for his reaction, he did not express disappointment that Jones was not headed to the Bay Area. Rather, he expressed relief his team would not have to scheme against him on any potential postseason run.

“I’m very glad he’s in the AFC,” said Shanahan, who served as offensive coordinator with the Falcons during a stretch of Jones’ career there.

“It would have been a hell of a deal,” continued Shanahan, referencing a potential Niners trade for the wide receiver, “but my second-favorite choice is him being in the AFC.”

49ers Wide Receiver Depth Still Impressive Without Jones

GETTYDeebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to their game against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, California.

While the addition of Jones would have made the Niners wide receiving corps truly elite, the group remains highly formidable even absent his presence.

Pro Football Focus (PFF), an analytics-centric website, recently ranked the 49ers wideout group as the 7th best in the league.

“Deebo Samuel has been used everywhere in this offense,” wrote Steve Palazzolo, who authored the PFF article. “Former first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk has similar (yards after catch) ability, but he was used in a more traditional role last season on his way to an 80.8 receiving grade, second-best among rookies.”

“George Kittle is the league’s best all-around option at tight end; he’s one of the few options who can run block effectively in-line while keeping defenses off balance with his route-running and after-the-catch ability,” Palazzolo continued. “Kittle has graded at 84.0 or better in each of the last three seasons, including an incredible 94.4 grade in 2019.”

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