San Francisco’s defense looks to be the backbone for the Niners’ playoff hopes. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has been sharp all season, and you can see it translate to his players. D.J. Jones is a direct reflection of that. For the last three seasons, he has been a standout player, but most of his production does not show up in his stat sheet.
Let’s look at seven plays that display Jones’ ability in his career day below.
This defensive stop was one of my 15 uplifting plays from Sunday’s game. Jones is so strong that he barely gets pushed upfield even though his shoulders are horizontal to the line of scrimmage. The defensive line had a solid day as Jones would finish with a career-high five tackles.
You can see Jones’ pass-rush ability in the two clips above. The 49ers are in a Bear front in the first play, and Jones is able to beat the center (with the help of Jordan Willis getting chipped) to disrupt the pass.
Secondly, Jones is lined up in a three-technique, where he beats the right and left guards blocks. Jones should be rewarded a quarterback hit here, but I don't see it in the box score. I’m sure not wrapping up is eating at Jones (need those incentives).
Getting double-teamed is part of the life of a defensive tackle. In the first clip, Jones holds the A-gap down with ease. His agility meets power, and he stonewalls the guard for a run of no gain.
I mentioned that Khalil Herbert was limited to 3.1 yards per carry in my five takeaways. This is just a great run fit by the whole 49er defense. Arden Key holds down the edge against a double team, and Jones uses violent hands to strike the center for the stop.
Jones’ agility and explosiveness are displayed in the two clips above. First, you see Jones run down the line to secure the tackle for no gain. He’s a 300-pound dancing bear. Jones always has good pursuit angles, and you see that here with him making a play from the backside.
In the second clip, Jones is so fast off the snap of the ball that he goes backside of the zone block. Jones tied his career-high in tackles for loss (2) here. Again, he would likely be out of phase in this instance, but Nick Bosa gets penetration on the tight end.
With Javon Kinlaw out for the rest of the season, a defensive tackle must step up. That player looks like it’ll be Jones. The signing of Charles Omenihu is telling that the 49ers aren’t satisfied with Kentavius Street’s progression.
Is D.J. Jones the most underrated defensive tackle in the NFL?
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