The 49ers have plenty of star power heading into 2020, yet these five unheralded players deserve plenty of attention in their own right.
When one thinks of the San Francisco 49ers ahead of the 2020 season, they think of the big-name contributors: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, EDGE Nick Bosa, cornerback Richard Sherman, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, linebacker Fred Warner and last year’s first-team All-Pro, tight end George Kittle.
Needless to say, the Niners boast plenty of household names on their roster, and those players are certainly going to be responsible for the level of success head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad has this season.
But what about the players who don’t receive anywhere near the credit? What about those who also have come up big before and made an impact while mostly flying under the radar?
Most San Francisco fans will know the names, of course. But the rest of the league hasn’t taken notice. And there’s a chance some fringe 49ers fans may not even recognize these five players who aren’t discussed as much as they potentially should be.
Niner Noise gives these five less-discussed players a little bit of their deserved due.
No. 5: 49ers nose tackle D.J. Jones
Perhaps he’s received some of the recognition he deserves. But nose tackle D.J. Jones isn’t exactly the first name coming to mind when Niners fans look at their stacked defensive line.
Jones, who flashed plenty of promise after being selected in Round 6 of the 2017 NFL Draft, broke onto the scene in 2019 with a career-best 23 tackles, four tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble and two sacks. He emerged as more than just a run-stopping interior lineman, flashing some exceptional power in the pass rush before suffering a season-ending ankle injury after 11 weeks.
San Francisco’s defense was noticeably less potent in the trenches with Jones out of the picture, yet he’s slated to return fully healthy this season and possibly assume a greater role with his former teammate, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, no longer in the picture.
While it’s easy to consider defensive linemen like Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Javon Kinlaw, one shouldn’t overlook Jones’ prowess.