The dream of having Julio Jones join the 49ers ended on Sunday.
Atlanta sent the former All Pro wide receiver to the Titans for a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-round pick.
This is a haul that the 49ers could have very easily put together to acquire Jones. Instead, they chose to let his talents pass them by. The 49ers could have used the boost that Jones would have provided. There is a mystery at wide receiver for the 49ers outside of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. Not to mention the lightweight injury prone title that Samuel is carrying.
Considering that, should the 49ers have pushed harder for Jones?
Not at all. The Falcons got their ideal situation by receiving adequate draft capital and sending Jones out of the NFC. Even if the 49ers matched the offer of the Titans or added a little sweetener to it, it would have made no difference. For the 49ers to have acquired Jones, they would have needed to significantly up the Titans with a first-round pick, which is something they do not have for the foreseeable future.
Plus, trading a first-round pick for a player who is past his prime and may be on the verge of becoming injury prone isn't justifiable. Jones is a sweet talent, but not worth the first-round pick the 49ers would have needed. The 49ers already stepped out of their comfort zone by forfeiting a haul of future draft picks with Trey Lance. They really do not want to do that again for an aging star.
Do not forget that Kyle Shanahan knows Jones from his time in Atlanta. If he wasn't willing to go the extra mile for Jones, then it is for good reason. Adding Jones was always a luxury, not a necessity. It is time for the 49ers to start coaching up and developing the guys they have now at receiver. That is the position where they have invested in the most draft capital-wise. It also helps that Shanahan can fabricate production out of that position with lesser talent, so that acts a bonus and a reason to not heavily pursue Jones.
The 49ers are not going to feel any sort of regret passing on Jones. He could do great this upcoming season and they would still be justified in their inaction. It was only ever going to make sense with Lance as the starter so that he would walk into a scenario with all the weapons in the world. Since Jimmy Garoppolo is almost assuredly the Week 1 starter, then it just pours onto why they didn't full-court press Jones.
Now is the time for someone in that receiver room to step up and stand out.