Nose tackle D.J. Jones is typically the first player to come off the field when the 49ers’ defense faces a passing down.
On Sunday against the New England Patriots, the 49ers likely will have fewer chances than usual to devote most of their resources toward defending the pass.
“Every game is an ice-bag game for me,” Jones said Friday. “The fact that they run the ball more than any team we’ve played is music to my ears. I feel like I’m a run-stopper first, so going into a game like this, I’m really excited.”
The Patriots (2-3) averaged 33 rushing attempts for 167.2 yards in their first five games of the season. Bill Belichick’s team has four players with more than 100 yards rushing, led by quarterback Cam Newton, who leads the way with 225 yards on 45 attempts.
Although second-leading rusher Sony Michel is on injured reserve, the Patriots also figure to feature heavy doses of Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris, who have 142 and 119 yards rushing on the season, respectively.
The 49ers have tightened up their run defense. They have allowed 4.1 yards per opponent rushing attempt, tied for eighth-best in the league.
Yet, Jones is expecting a full day of work and the next-day aches and pains that come along with enduring the constant punishment in the middle of the defensive line.
“An ice-bag game for me is waking up the next morning and knowing the first thing you need is that cold tub and bags of ice to make it through the day,” Jones said. “That’s how it is most games with my position on the defensive line. It’s a grind.
“This is a team that’s going to pound the ball from the first play until the last. But we have the guys up front that are ready for it. The ice bags will be there on Monday, for sure.”