Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Dee Ford calls D.J. Jones a ‘game-changer’ and a ‘pivotal part’ of the 49ers D-line

May 29, 2020 at 10:30 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers defensive line underwent a small makeover this offseason with the departures of DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day, both of whom are now with the Indianapolis Colts. The team replaced Buckner with first-round pick Javon Kinlaw.

San Francisco will get another crucial piece of the defensive-line puzzle back this season in D.J. Jones, whose 2019 campaign ended in Week 14 due to an ankle injury.

Jones recorded a career-high two sacks and 23 tackles before his injury. He may not have the flashy statistics, but don't discount the impact he had on the unit has a whole.

Pass rusher Dee Ford spoke with reporters on Friday via a video conference call and discussed what Jones brings to the table and why he is such a vital part of the team's campaign to return to the Super Bowl.

"In the beginning of the season, we really saw what D.J. could do," Ford said. "He's a game-changer. He can definitely disrupt the whole offensive line the way that he penetrates and pushes pads back. Man, he's definitely a pivotal part."

Ford, who missed five games due to injury last season, knows how important it will be for him and his teammates to stay healthy this season.

"I think he's in the same boat as me," Ford continued. "Just being available is the more important thing. The more we have D.J., the more scarier the D-line is as a whole. We all play together, and everything that we do together is tied in together. D.J. will be a very important part of that."

More will be asked of Jones in 2020, and the defensive tackle sounds up to the task. He has been working this offseason to improve his ability to reach and bring down opposing quarterbacks.

"I know I have it in me," Jones told reporters last week. "I just need the opportunity, and I need to continue to work at my craft to get better. Like I said, I stop my feet, I'll be stuck in mud, and I won't be able to make any plays. But as long as my feet keep working, my hands are working, I can get to the quarterback."

The injury and lost time were disappointing to Jones, who had to watch from the sidelines as his teammates fought their way to the Super Bowl and lost.

"I felt like I was on the rise," Jones said. "I felt like there was a lot more out there for me. I felt like I could have helped my team along the way. But at the same time, God makes no mistakes, and there's nothing I can do about the past except for work hard for the future."

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