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Is Julio Jones playing against the 49ers, and should he?

The Falcons won without their best receiver this past week. Should they rest him again versus the 49ers?

Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Short answer: No, I suspect that Julio Jones will not play agains the San Francisco 49ers, but we’ll make that official later in the week. Longer answer: The Falcons really have to weigh this decision carefully, and they should lean toward not playing #11.

Julio Jones has played in 12 games this season for the Falcons, putting up an insane 75 receptions, 1,253 yards and five touchdowns over that span. He’s already proven that he’s one of the best receivers alive many times over, and if he misses a couple of weeks to rest a turf toe injury, no damage done to his reputation. The only damage that could happen is on the field, where the Falcons’ offense is obviously diminished without him.

That didn’t wind up mattering a great deal against the Rams, where the Falcons were able to put up just 283 yards (237 from the arm of Matt Ryan) and win handily thanks to a strong defensive effort. This weekend against the hapless 49ers, they should be able to win once more even if Julio is sidelined, particularly if they have Jake Matthews at 100% and Mohamed Sanu back in action. Neither of those are guarantees, mind you, and the 49ers offense at least has the potential to be less punchless than the Rams’, which means this might not be the cakewalk we all hope it is.

Still, this team can collect its 9th win Sunday (and probably will), giving them two games against fading Panthers and Saints teams to collect 10 or 11 and likely make it into the playoffs. To survive in the postseason, and even to keep up in a likely shootout with the Saints, Atlanta’s going to need a healthy Julio, and every bit of rest they can give him could make a difference down the line. There are no guarantees either way, but if you have a game you’re pretty confident you can win without him, I think you strongly consider making him inactive for the second straight week. The team has just enough firepower against a lousy 49ers defense to win this, particularly since I think there’s zero chance the ground game gets bottled up once again by Chip Kelly’s crew.

What do you think? Should the Falcons sit Julio this weekend?