Kyle Shanahan knows no greater compliment for a wide receiver than a comparison to Julio Jones.
The 49ers coach did not hold back on the superlatives while praising Seattle Seahawks second-year player DK Metcalf on 49ers Game Plan, which airs Friday at 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.
“As a rookie last year he was unbelievable,” Shanahan said of Metcalf. “He’s only better this year. DK is just different than everyone. Not everyone. The guy he reminds me of is Julio. The way he runs. The way his body is. The way he lowers his head and comes off the ball. His stride. His arm pump. His physicality.
“Julio is the top of everybody to me. And just to be able to be mentioned with him shows you the type of freak he is.”
The 49ers’ defense will face a big test on Sunday against quarterback Russell Wilson, whose top targets are Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Metcalf’s height, speed and athleticism are similar to Jones. Metcalf is listed as 1 inch taller and 9 pounds heavier.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Metcalf’s vertical jump was 2 inches higher than Jones, and he had 27 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press (10 more than Jones).
An injury-plagued career at Ole Miss might have been the main reason Metcalf went undrafted until the Seahawks selected him with the No. 64 and final pick in the second round of the 2018 draft.
Metcalf’s production in the NFL has caught up quickly to his unlimited potential.
Metcalf caught 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. Through six games this year, he has 24 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns.
Shanahan was Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator for two seasons with Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl player who has a streak of six consecutive seasons with no fewer than 1,394 receiving yards.
In 2015, Shanahan called the plays in a season in which Jones caught 136 passes for 1,871 yards and eight touchdowns.
“He’s not there, yet,” Shanahan said of Metcalf. “Julio has been doing it for a while, but there aren’t many guys you can put in that category who have that physical type of gift that he has.
“And, also, just watching him play, he’s picked up that mentality. He’s tough. He goes hard every play. He blocks. He comes off the ball and never takes a play off. Reminds me a lot of Julio.”