How Julio Jones 49ers-Falcons trade could shake up NFC West originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
How tough could it get for the Seattle Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West if San Francisco added another marquee weapon to that group?
Atlanta Falcons superstar Julio Jones has made it clear he wants to find a new team before the 2021 NFL season, and a trade reportedly could happen in the near future. The 49ers have been connected to Jones, which brings us to the big question: What would it cost for John Lynch and the rest of San Francisco’s front office to secure the seven-time Pro Bowl wideout?
A handful of ESPN reporters — those who cover the 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans — laid out four different trade possibilities for Jones on Thursday. Nick Wagoner, ESPN’s 49ers reporter, offered up a hypothetical trade where the 49ers would send the Falcons a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder.
His trade offer was the only one accepted by Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein.
“The San Francisco deal was the simplest but also made the most sense,” Rothstein wrote. “The Falcons acquire two picks that can help reshape the roster or offer Fontenot draft capital to maneuver the next two years. It gave, to me, the best return of the offers put out there.
Wagoner did mention the easiest way for this to get done would be for the 49ers to trade Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers would save $25 million if they move on from Garoppolo after June 1. Jones is owed over $15 million this season.
The 49ers recently were seen as the betting favorites to land Jones. Atlanta, understandably, might not be willing to move Jones to a fellow NFC team, but if they do, the 49ers could be the perfect fit.
Jones, 32, still is one of the best receivers in all of football. In only nine games last season, he hauled in 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns on a Falcons team that only won four games. That broke a streak of six streak seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. In that span, his lowest amount of receiving yards was 1,394 in 2019.
Adding the two-time All-Pro would give the 49ers a deep threat out wide as the 49ers’ X receiver. Aiyuk would line up opposite of Jones out wide and Samuel could slide in as the 49ers’ slot receiver. It also doesn’t hurt that Jones already is familiar with Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Jones’ two All-Pro seasons were the two that Shanahan was his offensive coordinator with the Falcons. He led the NFL in receptions (136), yards (1,871) and yards per game (116.9) in 2015, Shanahan’s first year running the offense in Atlanta. The next season, Jones missed two games but still led the NFL in yards per game (100.6) while catching 83 passes for 1,409 yards.
Shanahan hasn’t shut the door on making a move for Jones, and it’s easy to see why.