Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan mum on Julio Jones, likes 49ers WRs, but remains open making moves

May 25, 2021 at 2:25 PM--

How does 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan feel about the possibility of a reunion with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones?

League rules prevent him from saying a whole lot about that subject, but he did make it clear when speaking to reporters after practice on Tuesday that he was very much in favor of continuing to look for ways to improve the team if those possibilities presented themselves.

Speculation over Jones' future with the Falcons swirled for months before the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver made it clear earlier this week that he no longer planned to play football in Atlanta. Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, spoke highly of Jones on Tuesday and said he's always looking for ways to get better, even though he can't specifically say anything about the chances of adding Jones in a trade.

"You know I'm not legally allowed to talk about players on other teams, so I can't answer that exactly the way you want me to," Shanahan said Tuesday. "Anyone I've coached in the past that I have relationships with, especially a great dude like Julio, obviously I have a ton of respect for. But yeah, we're always interested in improving our team. We'll never just say, 'Hey, we're done. We can't improve our team.' You always try to make that happen."

The question of course is if the 49ers have the type of ammo it would take to pull off a trade. The team shipped away two future first-round picks in March to move up in the draft to select quarterback Trey Lance, which would leave it shorthanded if by chance another team decided to give up the first-round pick the Falcons have reportedly sought in exchange for Jones. It may also be hesitant to ship away any further high draft picks after that trade, and there's also the issue of taking on the 32-year-old Jones' hefty contract.

"Yeah, it makes it harder when you've already given up some stuff to make some moves and things like that," Shanahan said. "Everything's got to fit in and it's got to make sense. But yeah, I would never say we're just done."

It seems inevitable that Jones and the Falcons will part ways, and 49ers fans will hold out hope in the meantime that their team will be the one that is able to pull off a deal. If the 49ers aren't where Jones winds up down the line, they'll move forward with a receiving group centered around Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, Richie James, and veteran candidates such as Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Sanu. It's a group Shanahan likes, even if he hasn't had a chance to work with it much due to a limited offseason schedule.

"I've been really excited with the group," Shanahan said. "We just got to see them in person a week ago from yesterday. They came and worked hard on Monday. We got four days to really condition them. I thought the wideouts really worked very hard last week, which allowed us to be somewhat prepared this week. I think we'll turn it up a lot more with them the following week. That's usually my biggest concern in OTAs are the wideouts and the people that do most of the running with the soft tissue injuries. So, I think they've been getting in real good shape. Looking forward to Deebo and Aiyuk taking a step forward and all these guys that we've brought here. With Sanu coming back -- we had him for a little bit last year -- with Travis coming back, I think they've added some stuff to the group."

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