49ers DJ Jones happy to discuss possible salary


One of the 49ers’ strongest players has been asked a question many of his peers would dodge. And DJ Jones treated him like he was an inside offensive lineman: he attacked him head-on.

Has the 49ers nose tackle thought about the potentially lucrative contract he could sign during the offseason? It wouldn’t have come as a surprise if the future unrestricted free agent offered one of the many common answers. He hasn’t thought about it, or he’s just focused on the next game, or he’s never been motivated by money.

However, Jones, a 305-pounder whose agility belies his size, isn’t like most players. And instead of pretending he was a robot, immune to thoughts of generational wealth, he was real: yes, he thought about how he could change the fortunes of his three older sisters and his parents, who rule. a catering business, if he signed a major long-term contract for his five-year career.

“The way I play, yes sir,” Jones said. “I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that… I want to take my mom and dad out of the barbecue business. I want to make sure my sisters don’t have to do anything else, as long as they invest the money I provide them correctly. I fully understand the situation in which I find myself. I’m not going to say that’s what I’m fighting for. I do my job for my team. These are rewards.

Yes, Jones is playing the ball. The 2017 sixth-round pick, who missed 20 games in his first four years, shows what he can do if he puts up a full season: Jones, who hasn’t missed a start, has 42 tackles, 19 more than his previous record, and tied a career-high with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Jones ‘mix of power and speed was in the spotlight in Sunday’s 30-23 loss to Seattle when he set up the 49ers’ first touchdown with a tackle for a five-yard loss and forced fumbles. on consecutive games. He later stopped the Seahawks from scoring a touchdown that sealed the game with back-to-back tackles on the goal line for running back Adrian Peterson on the one-yard line.

“I feel like I’m turning into a vet, slowly but surely,” Jones said. “And I feel like I’m at my peak. I play my best football.

His teammates and coaches agree. Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, compared Jones’ strength and ability to “lose blocks and destroy things in the backfield” to one of his teammates with the Eagles: the tackle defensive player Fletcher Cox, a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

And All-Pro tight end George Kittle joked that he asked offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to avoid calling games in training camp that required him to do inside blocks on Jones.

“There aren’t a lot of people that I feel like that when they get their hands on me, I feel like, ‘I’m fucked up,'” Kittle said. “He’s one of those people who when he gets his hands on me, I’m like ‘OK, I’m going to stay outside instead. Mike, don’t call anymore (one block Wham). He’s just explosive. He’s so fast. And he’s so strong. He’s just a bull in there.

When passing thrower Nick Bosa saw Jones interviewed for this article outside of the 49ers’ locker room on Thursday, he suggested a question to his teammate as he passed: “Why can’t (naysayers) get you? to move ? Bosa said smiling.

All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner called Jones, Bosa and left tackle Trent Williams some of the 49ers’ strongest players.

“Some guys can bench any amount of weight in the weight room and then you go out on the court and it doesn’t translate,” Warner said. “He has the strength of football where he literally displaces adult men and mistreats them.”

Warner developed a greater appreciation for Jones looking at his seven-tackle performance from the sideline in Seattle. Warner, who missed the first game of his four-season career, saw Jones dismiss 320-pound center Ethan Pocic and crash into Peterson a fraction of a second after taking over, placing second and -15.

On the next snap, Jones quickly recognized a screen to Gerald Everett and sprinted sideways to his left to strip the tight end into the open field, forcing a fumble that led to a 24-yard touchdown pass to Kittle on the next game. It was reminiscent of the free-field save Jones made to Rams tight end Kendall Blanton last month to thwart a false field goal attempt.

Warner Rating: Jones will receive a big raise after signing a one-year, $ 3.5 million contract in March.

“It’s a little hard to see when you’re in a game and playing (behind) him,” Warner said. “But look aside last weekend?” Phew, this guy is making money, I’ll say it.

Jones didn’t expect to be in this position early in his NFL career. He was the No.198 pick in 2017 and was coming out of a serious elbow injury after his final season at Ole Miss. His career goal after joining the 49ers was modest: to make the team.

However, Jones quickly discovered that he could move linemen at the NFL level as well. And he attributes the continuous work of the weight room to its ability to become more and more disruptive over the past five seasons. Jones has lifted over 500 pounds on the bench press and can squat nearly 800 pounds.

“I don’t brag, I don’t brag, but I’ve always been the strongest guy wherever I am,” Jones said. “Middle school. High school. College. Ole Miss. But when I got here there was a bunch of grown men and we were all that guy. Being up there, always, (in the NFL), c “is a blessing. I feel like the strength comes from endless hours in the weight room. And dedicate myself.”

His dedication is why Jones is among the 49ers’ best free agents to keep in March, a list that includes left tackle Laken Tomlinson and cornerback K’Waun Williams. Jones is focused on coming to the end of his best career season, but he doesn’t mind looking to the future.

“I would love to stay here,” Jones said. “I would love to be a 49er for the rest of my career. It’s that simple. But we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes.

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Eric_Branch


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