One season removed from nine consecutive losses to open the season, the 49ers may not be all that far from playoff contention, former tight end Brent Jones said.
“You talk about flipping it,” Jones said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “It just shows me that John (Lynch) and Kyle (Shanahan) have a good plan and understanding that it’s still about talent development and talent acquisition that go toward building a playoff and, potentially, a championship organization.
“It’s been a pretty quick turnaround from where we started the season last year.”
Jones said he believes the 49ers showed promise in the team’s first two games of the season – a loss at Minnesota and a home victory over Detroit -- but must exhibit more consistency and avoid injuries to place themselves in position to compete for a spot in the NFC playoffs.
“We have some players that are going to be part of the core going forward four, five, six years from now,” he said. “I think the more consistent we get, the more possibilities we have to be a consistent playoff team. I think it starts this year.”
Jones is not at all discouraged by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s up-and-down first two games. He described the 49ers’ acquisition of Garoppolo as similar to obtaining a “fully loaded computer” after coming over in a trade from New England, where he learned from quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
“A fully loaded computer doesn’t mean you don’t have a software update every now and then,” Jones said. “But a guy who trained under arguably the greatest, alongside Joe Montana, and one of the greatest coaches to ever coach, just your awareness and your analysis of the game and defense, all those things, is so much different than drafting a quarterback and developing him.”
Jones played 11 seasons at tight end for the 49ers. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee who was selected to four Pro Bowls and played on three Super Bowl-winning teams.
He currently lives in Dallas and plays fantasy football. He has 49ers second-year tight end George Kittle on one of his teams, he said. Kittle leads the 49ers with seven receptions for 112 yards.
“I really do like George a lot,” Jones said. “He has really good route-running, smooth, nuanced receiving skills with the way he attacks routes and the way he catches the ball. With any young player, you’re looking for more consistency.
“He can explode and have six or seven catches and take it to the house from 60 yards, but he’s got to be able to focus and sometimes instead of getting up field, you got to look that ball into your hands and make the easy catches, as well as the tough ones. I think that just comes with playing time and consistency.”