Ryan and Jones may not have careers that equal Rice and Montana's, but their first seasons together may be similar. Much to my surprise, that may not be a good thing.
For many years, people have argued if it was WR Jerry Rice who made Joe Montana, or the other way around. It seems like a reasonable debate, as both are hall-of-fame players, and were both one of the best all time at their positions. Montana won before Rice entering the league. Rice also enjoyed success after Montana's retirement, with QB Steve Young.
Joe Montana entered the NFL in 1979, seven years before his star WR entered in 1985.
One might assume that Joe Montana's 1985 season would have been amazing, after the best WR of all time was added to an already excellent team.
In fact, the 49ers had just won the Superbowl in 1985 (84 season), ending a 18-1 season, in which San Fransisco had become the first team ever to end the regular season with 15 wins (15-1).
The next year, in 1985, the 49ers finished with a 10-7 record, and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Montana finished the 84 regular season with 3630 yds and 28 TDs, while in 85, he ended with 3653 and 27 TDs.
Most say it takes a WR three years to adjust from college to the NFL, Rice however had 927 yds his rookie year, very good back then. However, he only had 49 catches and 3 TDs.
The 49ers won the Superbowl again in 1989 and again in 1990, Rice's 4th and 5th seasons.
As a team, the Falcons had only 32 receptions of 20 yards or more (the standard most teams, including Atlanta, use to define "explosive" plays) in 2010, next to last in the league. The team's six plays of 40 yards or more ranked 22nd. The club's average of 6.46 yards per attempt ranked 25th in the league.
The NFL is a passing league, and with Roddy White quickly approaching the wrong side of 30, Julio will be the WR Matt Ryan will spend the majority of his career throwing to.
However, don't be so quick to assume Julio will be a savior for us in 2011.
Afterall, the mighty 49ers took a small step BACKWARD in Jerry Rice's first year.