The 49ers’ defensive line was the strongest unit on the team that breezed through the NFC playoffs and into the Super Bowl more than a year ago.
D.J. Jones did not play during the 2019 postseason due to an ankle injury. And, now, that he is back for at least one more season with the organization, he believes the D-line is in good shape to again lead the way.
“This group can be as good as it wants to be,” Jones said on Tuesday on a video call with Bay Area reporters after signing a one-year contract to remain with the 49ers for a fifth season.
Jones returns as the club’s nose tackle and rejoins a starting front four that consists of Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw.
But the first name he mentioned when talking about the talent on the 49ers’ defensive line was a player who has just one NFL start.
Jones said he expects big things in the near future from Kevin Givens, a defensive tackle who entered the NFL in 2019 as a undrafted rookie from Penn State.
“There are a lot of guys who love learning and that aspect alone can take you a long way,” Jones said. “I mean, it’s a bunch I actually look up to who are younger than me.
“I look up Kevin Givens. He’s a twitch guy. Nobody’s talking about him, but they will be soon.”
Jones said Givens’ quickness at the snap of the ball and his approach to his craft will set him up for a good career.
“I love him to death,” Jones said. “I love him like my brother. Love them all like my brother, but he’s one of the guys that he might not know it, but I look up to him.
"He comes to work. He doesn’t say much, but he comes to work and he works every day, whether he’s feeling like it or not.”
Jones spoke highly of Armstead, Kinlaw and Bosa, who returns after after sustaining a torn ACL in Week 2. The 49ers last week signed edge rusher Samson Ebukam as a free agent from the Los Angeles Rams.
“I’m excited,” Jones said. “I honestly really didn’t want to go anywhere else. I knew this was going to be the perfect place for me. So coming back was a dream come true for me.”