When it was revealed that the Tennessee Titans were able to land five-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones for just a second and fourth round pick, more than a few 49ers fans were left scratching their heads.
The 49ers would’ve been out of the sweepstakes had Jones gone for a first-round pick as some had reported, considering San Francisco just traded two future firsts for the opportunity to draft Trey Lance. But Jones going for less seemed to indicate that a.) the 49ers decided he wasn’t worth it even at that price and/or b.) the Falcons were uninterested in trading Jones to a team within the conference.
According to longtime NFL reporter Albert Breer, it was the former. Breer reported in his Monday morning column that none of the NFC West teams made a formal offer for Jones.
“The Ravens discussed a Jones trade with the Falcons prior to the draft, but pulled out of the running after taking Rashod Bateman in the first round, and never got back in,” Breer writes. “The Patriots never showed real interest to Atlanta in Jones, and the Raiders (perhaps for cash reasons) weren’t in it either. The Falcons did wind up talking to all four NFC West teams about a Jones trade, but never got a real offer from any of them.”
When examining the pros and cons of doing the deal, the cons list must have seemed more compelling to Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.
The pros: Acquiring one of the greatest receivers of all time for reasonable draft compensation in a receiving room that is threadbare and has only two receivers that can be counted upon… and given injuries, they can’t actually be counted upon. Richie James Jr. is the only other receiver who you can comfortably say is likely to make the team at this point. Jones would provide serious depth and a sense of ease against the possibilities of injuries.
The cons: The 49ers would be without their first- and second-round picks next year, and third- and fourth-round picks in 2023. They would have to maneuver cap space in order to both afford Jones’ contract and to sign their rookie class, meaning two of three moves would be likely: extending Laken Tomlinson to lower his current year cap hit, and restructuring Jimmie Ward and/or Arik Armstead’s contracts. There is also the obvious concern that Jones has been injured in each of the last two seasons and perhaps we’ve already seen the best of him.