In the wake of the Titans trading for Julio Jones, Niner Noise looks at the 49ers’ five toughest wide receivers they’ll face this upcoming season.
On the other, however, the Niners have to face the Titans on a short week, traveling to Tennessee in Week 16 on Thursday Night Football, meaning Jones will be awaiting head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. again despite the fact San Francisco hosts Atlanta the week before.
Jones would have already been on the list of toughest wide receivers the 49ers will face off against this season. It’d be that same case for any team now playing the Titans.
But Jones could have just made his value much more apparent to a previously run-heavy Tennessee offense needing to score a lot of points this season if the Titans hope to get back into the playoffs, as their defense is likely to struggle.
In the wake of the blockbuster trade, let’s break down the five most difficult wide receiver matchups the Niners defense will have to deal with in 2021.
No. 5: 49ers face Julio Jones, Titans in Week 16
Jones was a major reason why San Francisco lost to Atlanta in a trap-game setting late in 2019, especially that game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
At 32 years old, there’s inevitably going to be the chatter about he’s past his prime, but don’t let that fool you. He remains one of the most prolific weapons in the league today, and pairing him with Titans running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for over 2,000 yards last season, is going to make any defense have headaches trying to figure out how to defend against Tennessee now.
Just the context makes Jones dangerous. Then tack on his accolades.
Over his career, Jones has 23 receptions over 271 yards and two touchdowns in two career games against the 49ers. Just divide up the splits — 11.5 catches and 135.5 yards on average per game.
And it certainly doesn’t help the Niners now get to face Jones on the road for a short week two hours east.