49ers free agents: 5 players who won’t be back in 2022

Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
Raheem Mostert #31 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /
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D.J. Jones, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones (93) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 3: 49ers Defensive Tackle D.J. Jones

Free agency isn’t always about letting go of players who are underperforming or no longer fit the team’s needs.

Often, teams need to prioritize their other needs elsewhere, which can often mean letting go of players they’d otherwise like to keep around but simply can’t.

This is probably what’s going to wind up happening with nose tackle D.J. Jones, a quality member of the Niners run-stopping defensive line in base formations and someone who has proven his worth both against the run and in the pass-rush department.

Jones, who has also dealt with injuries over the years, has nevertheless found himself tied for second on San Francisco’s defense with five tackles for a loss this season. Despite the regular and consistent production during his 49ers tenure, though, Jones falls into that category of a player who’ll likely want to cash in on a bigger contract in 2022.

It would be one thing if the Niners didn’t have any adequate contingency plans, although 1-technique nose tackles aren’t exactly tough to find on the free-agent market. Still, San Francisco has watched Jones’ primary backup, Kevin Givens, emerge as a quality player over the last two seasons.

An exclusive-rights free agent in 2022, meaning he can only negotiate with the 49ers and no one else, Givens can easily be retained on the cheap.

That probably ensures Jones walks.