© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
The 2019 season was poised to be D.J. Jones’ breakout year. In some ways, it was. He established a crucial role for himself on the 49ers’ stacked defensive line as an interior-bursting nose tackle, and as one of the NFL’s best.
Jones’ season may be over
Still, he’ll fail on the one goal he set out for himself: remaining healthy. Less than a month ago, as Jones was coming off a nagging groin injury which cost him three games, he told KNBR that health was his sole focus.
“I guess I surprised some people, but I’ve got to finish the season.” Jones said November 20. “I want to surprise people by finishing the season healthy and dominating and helping my team get as many wins as possible.”
That hasn’t happened. After his groin injury, Jones sprained an ankle against the Baltimore Ravens, but managed to play against the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that Jones was undergoing tests for the sprained ankle, which was seemed to be a re-aggravation of the same injury. Instead, Shanahan revealed on Wednesday that it was Jones’ other ankle that was injured, and he is likely done for the season.
“We’re worried about it, we’re waiting on some other things, but it’s a pretty significant one,” Shanahan said. “Yes, possibly [season-ending].”
What now? Kentavius Street in line to finally get his chance
Kentavius Street has been ready. He’s been ready health-wise since he told KNBR one month ago that he was physically “more than ready” to return to the field, simply waiting for his time. He’s probably been ready for longer than that, having spent the duration of his NFL career from the sidelines. A preseason ACL tear in his rookie year last season saw him placed on injured reserve, and after some knee complications necessitated arthroscopic surgery, he was relegated to the same outside looking-in fate.
He said back on November 14 that he was trying to be patient.
“It just all depends,” Street said. “You know, with how violent this game is, you never know who will be around, so I’m just trying to be available.”
With Jones’ injury (and maybe even without his injury) Street appears imminent for a return, likely needing to make it through this week healthy to be activated from injured reserve, in the second week of his return window. Shanahan implied Street was next in the pecking order.
“He’s got a chance to get up this week,” Shanahan said, and repeated that sentiment when asked who could replace Jones.
Street was not lacking enthusiasm when he spoke on Wednesday.
“I feel like I could run through a wall right now,” Street said.
Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams not yet practicing
A far cry from the start of the season, the injury report has fully shifted to the defensive side. Dee Ford (hamstring strain, out for the remainder of the regular season), D.J. Jones (ankle, season likely over), Richard Sherman (hamstring, likely out multiple weeks), Jullian Taylor (elbow ligament, out at least this week), Jaquiski Tartt (fractured rib, day-to-day), K’Waun Williams (concussion, day-to-day) will all sit out of 49ers’ practice on Wednesday, which will be limited to walkthroughs.
Antone Exum Jr. was signed last week as cover for Tartt, while Dontae Johnson was signed on Wednesday as cover for Williams. Both players, along with Jordan Matthews (signed after Marquise Goodwin’s IR designation), have been part of the 49ers’ plug-and-play free agent backups. Whenever someone gets injured, they are called upon, and then often quickly cut.
Tartt and Williams haven’t been ruled out for this weekend, but their statuses are in question.