Niner Noise’s 2018 “Who Is?” series looks at a veteran member of the San Francisco 49ers secondary, defensive back Don Jones, and what he projects to do this season.
Youth can be a good thing, yet there’s always a bonus with veteran presence. And here is where 28-year-old defensive back Don Jones comes into play.
Jones, who broke into the NFL with the Miami Dolphins as a seventh-round NFL Draft pick back in 2013, bounced around the league quite a bit before being signed by the Niners in March of 2017. Unfortunately, his first year with the red and gold finished with a season-ending ACL injury in September.
|2 yr||2 yr||CLE||13||0||0|
|2 yr||2 yr||MIA||20||0||1||0||0||0||0||15||1||1|
|1 yr||1 yr||HOU||9||1||1|
|1 yr||1 yr||NOR||5||0||0|
|1 yr||1 yr||NWE||9||0||6||0||0|
The Niners brought aboard Jones to provide depth last season and, more importantly, for his work on special teams. His injury negated any looks the team hoped to receive, though.
Yet will that change this upcoming season? Does Jones have a chance at a roster spot in 2018?
Let’s take a look.
Why Don Jones Improves in 2018
There are two specific attributes making the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Jones stand out — versatility and speed.
Jones ran a 4.40 40-yard time at his pro day back in 2013, which is more than adequate to keep up with the majority of defensive backs he’d face. Perhaps not in a starting role, but it’s not bad for a depth option.
And while his frame isn’t ideally suited for outside play, operating at a nickel corner position or as a free safety is plausible.
On top of that, Pro Football Focus gave Jones a plus-2.0 grade for his efforts on punt plays in 2016. If Jones hopes to make the roster, this area will be vital.
Why He Regresses
First, Jones has yet to find a long-term home. That’s always concerning but not unusual for career special teamers.
Despite the aforementioned abilities in punt coverage and protection, Jones’ PFF numbers on special teams haven’t always been great. Overall, he has a minus-20.0 mark here, which doesn’t bode well for his roster chances:
If it came down to a roster spot between Mostert and Jones, it’s easy to make the call.
Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster in 2018
Jones’ versatility and experience on special teams are valuable. And even though he spent all of last season on injured reserve, having the one year of experience working within San Francisco’s defensive scheme gives Jones something of a leg up on the team’s primarily young defensive backs.
Despite this, though, Jones still has a long way to go.
Right now, he’s easily on the bubble, possibly on the weaker side. The best chances he stands to make the roster this season would be to make a serious impact on special teams. Even then, it might take an injury or two to open up another spot.
If that doesn’t happen, Jones likely finds himself looking for yet another suitor this upcoming season.