San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan ‘very glad’ Julio Jones ended up in AFC

If San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t going to be working with Julio Jones, he didn’t want to be anywhere near him. 

Option two became reality when the Atlanta Falcons traded the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, in turn forming one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.

The 49ers had at one stage looked in contention to pursue the wantaway veteran alongside division rival Seattle Seahawks, but once that possibility had passed Shanahan was something of a relieved man.

“I’m very glad he’s in the AFC,” joked Shanahan while speaking to reporters on Sunday. “Good day.”

“It would have been a hell of a deal. But my second-favourite choice is him being in the AFC. Number one, him not being in our division is a huge deal. The AFC is my second-favourite. Julio’s the man, everyone knows how good he is. Tennessee got a hell of a player.”

Julio has arrived. 📍 pic.twitter.com/w788KpXfYY

Jones’ arrival in Nashville, meanwhile, granted the wish of Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who had addressed his now-teammate with a video in which he could be seen pitching a move to Tennessee.

The former Falcon marks a more than worthy replacement for the likes of wide receiver Corey Davis (New York Jets) and tight end Jonnu Smith (New England Patriots), both of whom departed in free agency alongside the released Adam Humphries.

“This morning, I looked at my phone, and my daughter was laying next to me and I kind of jumped out of bed and said, ‘Is this really real?’ I kind of woke my daughter up,” Brown told reporters, per the official Titans website. “I had to calm down for a little bit. When I got the news, it was kind of crazy. My phone started blowing up. I think this is really huge for Tennessee, not just for me, but this is huge for the city, our team. We are glad to have him.”

Julio to Tennessee now! pic.twitter.com/ixZNV7fApB

Jones will now be at the disposal of quarterback Ryan Tannehill across from Brown, with their combined coverage demands clearing the box for two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry.

The Titans will also get production from former Los Angeles Rams receiver Josh Reynolds and have high hopes for sixth-round pick Racey McMath.

Jones, who turned 32 in February, posted 51 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns in nine games in an injury-hit 2020 having entered the year on the back of six successive 1,000-yard seasons across which he led the NFL in receiving yards twice and in receiving yards per game on three occasions.

“All the way up through college, he has been my favourite receiver, someone I’ve always looked up to,” Brown added. “Just having someone like that in the locker room now, that I can just ask ‘What do I need to do here?’ It is great. We talk all the time anyway, but having someone that close, and to see it on the field first-hand for yourself, it is great.

“To be honest, I have a picture in my locker of Julio, and I ask myself every day before I go out to practice ‘Don’t let Julio outwork you’, because that’s how I measure myself up to the best receiver in the game. So to have him on the same (team) as me, it is going to raise my level of play, too, which is great.”

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