Antonio Brown drops the most blatant hint yet he wants to be a 49er

Disgruntled Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been flirting with the 49ers on social media for weeks, but dropped any semblance of subtlety on Friday morning when he posted a picture of himself in a 49ers uniform on Instagram.

The photoshopped picture shows Brown in a 49ers uniform embracing Jerry Rice, who recently said Brown told him he wants to play for the 49ers “really bad.”

“Yeah, he wants to come here really bad,” Rice told 95.7 The Game. “He’s talking about running the hill with me, doing all that and just working out and just picking my brain. I don’t know if it’s going to happen because it’s going to be up to [head coach] Kyle Shanahan and also [general manager] John Lynch, but I’m all for it if they want him to come on board.”

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Brown left the caption, “When the goat embrace you…….” on his Friday Instagram post. “G.O.A.T” is an acronym for “greatest of all time.”

Many people have doubted whether the Steelers would actually trade Brown, since the seven-time Pro Bowler carries a cap hit of $21.2 million for 2019 that the Steelers must pay even if he’s traded.

However, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said earlier this month it would be “hard to envision” Brown back in Pittsburgh in 2019.

“We’ll look at all the options. We’re not going to release him, that’s not on the table. But I will say all other options are on the table,” Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Whether the situation can be reconciled and have him back on the team next year, we’re a long way away from thinking that can happen.”

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Brown’s relationship with the Steelers has deteriorated to a point of potential irreparability in recent months, but according to an ESPN report from Friday morning, the issues with Brown had been “brewing for years.”

One former teammate told ESPN that head coach Mike Tomlin only “tolerated” the receiver because of his on-the-field production.

Brown has had over 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past six seasons.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE staff writer. Email him at eting@sfchronicle.com and follow him on Twitter

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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Antonio-Brown-49ers-trade-Jerry-Rice-Mike-Tomlin-13562140.php.

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