49ers’ D.J. Jones primed to tackle big bag

One of the 49ers’ strongest players was posed a question many of his peers would dodge. And D.J. Jones treated it like it was an interior offensive lineman: He attacked it head-on.

Has 49ers nose tackle given any thought to the potentially lucrative contract he could sign in the offseason? It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent offered one of several stock answers. He hasn’t given it any thought, or he’s only 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’s considered how he could change the fortunes of his three older sisters and his parents, who run a catering business, if he signed the first major long-term deal of his five-year career.

“The way I’m playing, yes sir,” Jones said. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that … I want to retire my father and mother from the barbecue business. I want to make sure my sisters don’t have to do another thing, as long they invest the money that I provide correctly. I completely understand the situation I’m in. I’m not going to say that’s why I’m balling. I’m doing my job for my team. Those are rewards.”

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

Jones’ blend of power and quickness was on display in last Sunday’s 30-23 loss in Seattle when he set up the 49ers’ first touchdown with tackle for a five-yard loss and forced fumbles on back-to-back plays. Later, he prevented the Seahawks from scoring a game-sealing touchdown with consecutive goal-line tackles of running back Adrian Peterson from the one-yard line.

“I feel like I’ve morphed into a vet, slowly but surely,” Jones said. “And I feel like I’m in my prime. I’m playing my best football.”

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

And All-Pro tight end George Kittle joked that he asks offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to avoid calling plays in training camp that require him to make interior blocks on Jones.

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