49ers training camp: 10 players who’ll impress most in 2020
No. 10: 49ers nose tackle D.J. Jones back from injury
Nose tackle D.J. Jones was extremely important to the 49ers defensive line last season. Jones started 11 games but ended the season on injured reserve after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 14.
Jones was a sixth-round selection in the 2017 draft by the 49ers, and he has grown into the nose tackle role. Jones had a breakout year before the injury, recording four sacks and four tackles for loss, to go along with one forced fumble.
Jones had his best games in Weeks 8 and 10, as Jones had one sack and one tackle for loss in both games. However, Week 8 game most likely sticks out as one of his favorite games as Jones played one snap on offense. Although Jones did have another snap, on offense, in Week 5 as well as getting engaged pregame, which probably makes that Week 5 game just a bit special.
Jones averaged 28 snaps a game for the 11 games he started in, which averaged at 43 percent of the defensive snaps during that stretch. Jones is slated to see that workload increase after recovering from his injury and as rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw gets accustomed to the playbook and speed of the NFL.
Jones used his lightning-quick feet and technical hands to man-handle opponents’ offensive lines and disrupt both the run and passing games. Jones also has excellent burst off the line of scrimmage, to pair with deceptive closing speed, that frequently fooled both the opponents’ quarterbacks and running backs.
As Jones looks to be 100 percent healthy for training camp, watch out for Jones to make an immediate impact that will leave everyone wondering if the 49ers defensive line is about to be even better in 2020.