Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
When a new coaching staff comes in, one area that is guaranteed to see significant changes is special teams. The punter and kicker might change, but the big change comes in the core special teamers. A lot of players get work on special teams, but every team has a group of players that are essentially special teams starters. They play on most if not all the units, including kickoff and punt coverage, punt return and kick return coverage, and the field goal unit. And every special teams coach has guys they like.
The 49ers added several such players this offseason, including Dekoda Watson, Brock Coyle, and Don Jones. Each player has a defensive position attached to them (LB, LB, DB, respectively), but they’re special teams players first and foremost.
Don Jones is a perfect example of this. He has four years under his belt, playing in 56 games during that time. While he is listed as a defensive back, he has three career snaps on defense. All but one of his remaining snaps is on special teams (he had one offensive snap one year). He has 37 career special teams tackles and one forced fumble. Last season, he led the Houston Texans with 11 special teams tackles, while playing in only nine of their games.
Jones entered the NFL in 2013 as a seventh round pick of the Miami Dolphins. Since then, he has played with five teams, including two stints with the Dolphins.
- 2013: Miami Dolphins - 16 games
- 2014: Released by Miami during training camp; Claimed by New England Patriots, played nine games; waived by Patriots, claimed by Miami where he played four games
- 2015: Played five games with the New Orleans Saints, then five games with the Cleveland Browns
- 2016: Played four games with the Cleveland Browns; Released and later signed with the Houston Texans, where he played nine games and two playoff games
Experience: 4 accrued season
Weight: 195 lbs
Signed two-year deal worth $2.2 million this offseason. He received a $250,000 signing bonus, and is due $775,000 in his first year. The 49ers guaranteed $500,000 of his first year salary.
What to expect in 2017
Normally we would have why he might improve and why he might regress. In Jones’ case, I’d rather just combine them because we know pretty much exactly what he is. He will likely get some defensive snaps in the preseason, but if he makes the roster, he will play on special teams. If he is playing any defense, it is because of injuries to the other defensive backs.
Odds of making the roster
I did not include him in my post-minicamp 53-man roster projection, but I do think he has a good chance of making the roster. I’d say better than 50/50, but a lot of it depends on how the young guys perform on special teams.