Alert Follow us at @49erswz until Twitter fixes the issues with our official account.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


Opportunity knocks for D.J. Jones after underrated rookie year

Jul 28, 2018 at 8:59 AM


For a team only in the second year of a rebuild, there is a surprising lack of competition for starting roles on both sides of the ball for the San Francisco 49ers. But, despite only playing a limited role in his rookie year, D.J. Jones is a dark horse candidate to threaten for increased first-team snaps in 2018.

A sixth-round pick out of Ole Miss last year, Jones was restricted to nine games in his maiden pro season. However, he produced enough in those nine games to suggest he can threaten to leapfrog Earl Mitchell on the depth chart and become the starting 1-technique defensive tackle.

The importance of the 1-tech is decreased in a 49ers defensive scheme where nickel is their primary formation, but Jones provides upside that could make the base 4-3 defense more effective.

Seen as little more than a space-eater going into the draft, Jones flashed a surprising array of traits in his 147 defensive snaps last season, with his impressive understanding of leverage helping him excel defending against the run.

Jones comes off the snap low and with impressive explosion, resulting in plays such as this one against Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, whom he drives into the backfield before disengaging and finding the ball-carrier.


Rarely bullied off the ball, Jones consistently excelled at finding the football, with his stoutness at the point of attack allowing him to not only make tackles at the line of scrimmage but also impact the game by forcing runners to divert from their original running lane.

On the first of the two plays below against the Washington Redskins, Jones holds his ground and gets his hand into the pads and underneath the chin strap of the center before again disengaging and making an impressive ankle tackle on the ball-carrier. The second play from the Cowboys game shows him initially get moved off the ball, but then anchor and, with the help of Eric Reid, force Ezekiel Elliott to deviate from the running lane opened up by the guard getting to the second level.



What is perhaps most intriguing about Jones, though, is his athleticism. For a man of 321 pounds, Jones moves very well in space, as evidenced by this play from the Cowboys game, where he is able to evade the traffic near the line of scrimmage, displaying lateral quickness, and then get downhill to stop the running back with a strong tackle.


Though he was defending the run on that occasion, such displays of athleticism indicate Jones is a player who could produce some interior pass rush.

Early reports from training camp, which always have to be taken with a pinch of salt, corroborate that. Joe Fann of 49ers.com identified Jones as a player who shone in individual pass rush drills on Thursday's opening day.

Even though the 1-technique is not traditionally a pass-rushing position, Jones impressing in that area is important for two reasons. It is a skill Mitchell lacks -- he has never had more than two sacks in a single season -- and it was a primary factor in why Jones was kept off the field in the latter stages of last campaign, with Sheldon Day getting Jones' snaps because of Day's versatility to play as a 1-tech and pass-rushing 3-tech.

The best way to ensure he is not largely stuck watching from the sideline, or off the roster, is for Jones to also display proclivity rushing the passer. San Francisco clearly has designs on being two, maybe even three rotations deep up front, and the Niners would surely be keen to have spells where they can rest DeForest Buckner and veteran Mitchell by getting both Day and Jones on the field while still being confident of carrying an interior pass rush threat.

With Mitchell in his 30s and more of a one-dimensional player, there is a distinct opportunity for Jones to earn vastly increased playing time having done enough as a rookie to spark intrigue. However, memories in the NFL are short and, for Jones to ensure he has a more meaningful role going forward, he must build on those glimpses of promise and produce, both as a run defender and a pass rusher, with the pads on in camp.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Fred Warner excited to see what JaMyCal Hasty does with opportunity

By David Bonilla
Oct 21, 2020

JaMycal Hasty earned praise from his defensive teammate, Fred Warner, during training camp. The undrafted free agent running back landed on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad to start the season. The 49ers promoted Hasty to the active roster on October 3. He has just 46 rushing yards on 11 carries this season, but 37 of those yards came during Sunday night's win over the Los Angeles Rams after a high-ankle sprain sidelined Raheem Mostert. "I did mention [Hasty] back in training camp just because we all see him make the cuts," Warner told reporters on Wednesday. "And just the explosiveness that he has when he does touch the rock, it's something that jumps off the field, jumps off the tape." Hasty figures to help contribute to the 49ers' rushing

Read the Full Article


'He's a hungry player': Kerry Hyder Jr. shares thoughts on 49ers rookie Javon Kinlaw

By David Bonilla
Oct 23, 2020

Kerry Hyder Jr. joined the San Francisco 49ers this offseason just looking to contribute, do whatever was asked of him, and rejoin his former defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek. He's watched as the team lost Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas for the year. Reinforcements like Dee Ford, Ronald Blair, and Jullian Taylor aren't expected to be back until later in the season. Until then, Hyder, and those who remain, will be entrusted to hold down the fort. Another player looking to do the same thing is rookie Javon Kinlaw, who has displayed flashes of his potential while adjusting to life in the NFL. Hyder, now in his seventh season, was asked about his first-year teammate this week, his development, and his future. "He's a hungry player,"

Read the Full Article


49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk impressing the great Jerry Rice

By David Bonilla
Oct 26, 2020

Rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk surpassed 100 yards for the first time in his young NFL career, doing so on Sunday during the San Francisco 49ers' 33-6 victory over the New England Patriots. Aiyuk recorded six catches on seven targets for 115 yards, bringing his first-year total up to 20 receptions for 280 yards with a touchdown. The receiver has also been showing off his versatility. He has four carries for 69 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground this season. All of that has left Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice mightily impressed with the 49ers' young star. "He's starting to come into his own," Rice said Monday of Aiyuk on 95.7 The Game's The Morning Roast. "… I think it's just all phases. He can run by you, he

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Nicholas McGee

All Articles by Nicholas McGee

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone