Shanahan Isn't Looking for Next Julio Jones

Niners head coach doesn't believe it's necessary to go after a big, tall wide receiver early in the draft to try to replicate what he had with Jones with Falcons

It’s possible the 49ers could use their No. 1 pick on a wide receiver.

With Jimmy Garoppolo now set at quarterback, a young, fleet target — with good size for effectiveness around the goal line — would be a bonus for the passing game.

But Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis that it would be counterproductive for the team to set its sights on a wide receiver as a top priority when there are other possibly greater needs on the roster.

In fact, Shanahan said the only two positions not in need of an immediate upgrade are quarterback and fullback.

Shanahan goes into next season with his top three wide receivers as Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Some analysts have said the 49ers need at least one standout, big target, because Garcon, at 6-foot-1, is the tallest of the trio, with Goodwin at 5-foot-9 and Taylor just 5-foot-8. But Shanahan says it isn’t necessary to go out and try to bring in someone such as Julio Jones, the big (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) wideout who excelled in Shanahan’s offense in Atlanta.

"Where people make mistakes is when they say, 'We need a big, tall, red-zone target like Julio,' and then you go pay everyone else in the world who I can promise you isn’t Julio," said Shanahan, according to Joe Fann of "Now you can't go get a tight end, you can't go get a guard. Yeah, you've got that big guy, but it's got to be the right guy … You don’t go, 'Hey, we need a big guy.' No, we need good receivers. They come in all shapes and sizes."

One big wide receiver who has caught the eyes of 49ers scouts, according to several reports, is Oklahoma State’s Marcell Ateman, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds — exactly Jones’ size — but who could be available in the middle rounds of the draft. Ateman last season had 59 catches for 1,156 yards. The 49ers would be able to address other needs — such as guard and cornerback — before bringing in wide receiver help later in the draft.

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