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Advantage, Denver: The Broncos have D.J. Jones and the 49ers don't

The defensive tackle was signed by Denver to better stop the run against strong rushing teams like San Francisco.
Credit: AP
Denver Broncos defensive tackle D.J. Jones (97) tackles Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) during an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos signed D.J. Jones for this game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Not just San Francisco, but the idea of stopping teams like the 49ers, who have featured one of the most consistently strong running games in recent years. They will try to run the ball again Sunday night against the Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High (6:20 p.m. kickoff, 9NEWS).

“They do a great job of running the ball,’’ Jones said at his locker Thursday – which he switched this week from one next to the bathroom to one hidden in a corner on the opposite side. Why? One guess.

“Could not handle the smell,’’ he said.

About the 49ers’ running game.

“That team is built on physicality,’’ Jones said. “They’re [No. 4] in the league in rushing. I’m not surprised. We’ve got to come out with our A game.”

Jones knows. He played his first five seasons with the 49ers before signing a three-year, $30 million contract (two years and $20 million are guaranteed) with the Broncos in March.

The Denver defense had been porous at times against the run in recent years. Extremely active as 305-pound defensive tackles go, Jones is tough against the run.   

“I’m excited to play our third game of the season,’’ Jones said. “Of our early season. Like I told everybody else, this game isn’t putting us in the playoffs and it’s not eliminating us. So we’ve got to take it like another game, take the emotions out for myself, K’Waun. Just play our game.”

Broncos’ nickel back K’Waun Williams also played the previous five years in San Francisco. The standout play of Jones and Williams in their NFC second-round playoff game at Green Bay last season had some influence in those players winding up with the Broncos. Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett was Green Bay’s offensive coordinator in that game.

“I'm so happy they're on our team,’’ Hackett said. “For me, when their names were brought up, it was a no-brainer for me. When you go against those guys as much as you have -- K’Waun gives you nightmares just how he plays that position. He's so savvy, understands the game, and he's an incredible blitzer.

“Then you have D.J. Jones, who is a force in there playing that two-eye and penetrating. He gave us fits. We were just watching some of the stuff today with a guy, showing them about how their front plays, and D.J. is on a lot of those clips. So I'm definitely happy he's on our team.”

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Come Sunday night before a primetime audience, Jones, from his mostly right defensive tackle position, figures to line up across from left guard Aaron Banks or center Jake Brendel – 49ers backups last season who took on Jones in practice.

“I’m excited to see my guys, but my emotions will stay in check,’’ Jones said. “I’m an easygoing guy, I think, so I’m just excited to have an opportunity to play against a great team.’’

And if Jones happens to disrupt his good friend Jimmy Garoppolo, so be it.

“He’s a better quarterback than people give him credit for,’’ Jones said. “He’s great in that system. Kyle [Shanahan, the 49ers’ coach] gives him great opportunities to show his arm strength, and he’s got great weapons around him.’’

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