San Francisco 49ers: 3 players who’ll break out in 2020

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
49ers, D.J. Jones
Defensive tackle D.J. Jones #93 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

No. 2: 49ers Nose Tackle D.J. Jones

Losing DeForest Buckner during the offseason means San Francisco’s defensive line is worse now than it was a year ago.

And while the Niners’ newest rookie, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, could step into the fray and make an immediate impact, Buckner’s absence also opens up the door for nose tackle D.J. Jones to assume a greater role.

NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco broke down the kind of impact Jones had in a career-best year in 2019:

"Jones registered his first two NFL sacks last season while playing in 11 games. On each of his sacks, Jones showed he has the physical ability to get after the quarterback on a more regular basis. He demonstrated his quickness at 305 pounds to track down Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen for a sack in Week 8. Then, he showed brute force in steamrolling Seattle center Joey Hunt en route to sacking Russell Wilson two weeks later. Jones was on the field for 147 pass plays last season, according to Pro Football Focus, had had seven quarterback hurries, along with his two sacks."

Jones suffered a season-ending ankle injury after 11 games last season, though, and the Niners sorely missed his presence along the D-line’s interior into the playoffs. While Jones is fully back healthy now, his abilities as an interior pass-rusher and not just a run-stuffer should help San Francisco mitigate the loss of Buckner.

And it could propel Jones into a serious force, too, making the Niners D-line just as potent as it was in 2019.

Perhaps even better over the long haul.