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Shanahan didn't close door on 49ers-Jones trade rumors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA -- So you’re saying there’s a chance.
As rumors swirl about where All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones would prefer to play next season, the 49ers are the betting favorite. On the other side of the fence, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has never hidden his admiration for the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver after working as Jones' offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and '16.
Shanahan addressed the rumors Tuesday, not entirely shutting the door on the possibility. The head coach would love to work with Jones again but, restricted by league rules, he maneuvered around the subject without confirming any trade talks with the Falcons.
“Well, you know I'm not legally allowed to talk about players on other teams,” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “I can't answer that exactly the way you want me to. 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.
“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 try to make that happen.”
The 49ers have several talented receivers on the the roster, but Jones clearly is a step above. Jones, who's entering his 11th NFL season, could provide leadership off the field as valuable as his ability on it.
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have proven their play-making ability, but both are young and battled injuries last season. Practicing and playing next to the likes of Jones would up their game. When Emmanuel Sanders joined the 49ers midway through the 2019 season, Samuel immediately began to flourish.
The cost to bring Jones to Santa Clara would be high, but not completely impossible. The 49ers have contract and salary cap specialist Paraag Marathe, who is fully capable of manipulating the numbers to allow flexibility.
“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. It's got to make sense. But, I would never say we're just done.”