49ers' Kyle Shanahan Says His 'Biggest Fear' Was Rams Would Trade for Julio Jones

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 7, 2021

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: Wide receiver Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against free safety Jimmie Ward #20 of the San Francisco 49ers during the game at Levi's Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was ready to go all-in on a trade for wideout Julio Jones if it looked like the Los Angeles Rams were close to aqcuiring him. 

Speaking to Rams head coach Sean McVay and Peter Schrager on the Flying Coach podcast, Shanahan said Jones going to Los Angeles was his "biggest fear" and would've had to make a counteroffer to ensure Jones didn't land with the NFC West rival.

"Julio would have helped everybody, but you know what it’s doing to your organization for that year and the years to come," Shanahan said (52:10 mark). "That’s a really risky thing, but man, if Sean’s getting him, I’m going to risk that. I know that’s how he thinks; that’s how we all think. You’ve got to compete with your division first.”

Jones was instead traded from the Atlanta Falcons to the Tennessee Titans with a sixth-round pick in 2023 in exchange for the Titans' second-round pick in 2022 and fourth-round pick in 2023. 

There's certainly no questioning the capabilities of Jones. In just nine games last year, the receiver tallied 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns. It was his first time playing fewer than 14 contests in a season since 2013—which was also the last time he recorded fewer than 1,000 yards receiving. 

In two career games against the Niners, Jones posted 271 receiving yards with two touchdowns combined on 23 catches. 

Shanahan didn't want that type of production to benefit a division rival. 

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Kyle Shanahan says it “would’ve been a hell of a deal” to have Julio Jones with <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/49ers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#49ers</a> but “I’m very glad he’s in the AFC.”<a href="https://t.co/VHkLlgjt4z">pic.twitter.com/VHkLlgjt4z</a>

McVay admitted he had similar feelings about Jones potentially joining the Niners. Both coaches felt like they were locked in an arms race with a counterpart who views the game similar to how he does.

“That’s actually the most frustrating thing for me,” Shanahan said. “I always say, ‘Let’s do it the right way,’ which, there’s no right way or wrong way, but you don’t want to have to risk your future to compete in one year. And that’s the hardest thing about being in our division because I know how Sean rolls. That’s very similar to me. And I can see that in the other two guys in our division."

Unfortunately for the Rams and Niners, neither team will be able to avoid Jones this season. The Titans host the 49ers in late December and will visit Los Angeles in early November.