Julio Jones, 4 other toughest wide receivers 49ers face in 2021

Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: 49ers face DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals in Weeks 5 and 9

D.K. Metcalf and the Arizona CardinalsDeAndre Hopkins both fall into that category of wide receivers the 49ers have the “luxury” of playing twice during the regular season.

And while Metcalf is a serious threat, Hopkins has the far more established pedigree.

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True, Hopkins will turn 30 years old before the regular season begins. But there’s been no sign of him slowing down anytime soon, and the offseason addition of veteran wide receiver A.J. Green could potentially make Hopkins an even more potent weapon, particularly if Green is effective enough at taking pressure off the five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro.

Hopkins made his case known just how big a force he can be when the Niners and Cardinals played in Week 1 last season, recording a career-high 14 receptions for 151 yards. True, San Francisco did a great job limiting him when these two teams met later in the year in Week 16, and Hopkins came away with only eight catches for 48 yards.

A noticeable difference, yes, but not a game that’ll indicate what’s likely to come this season.

The 49ers can only hope Hopkins has an “off” performance in at least one of these two matchups this year, or the Niners wind up taking advantage of Arizona’s other deficiencies to the point where a massive game from arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver isn’t enough to grant the Cardinals a victory.

Regardless, Hopkins remains the top wideout San Francisco faces in 2021.

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