Super Bowl: 49ers legend Brent Jones on the Eagles, Jalen Hurts and San Francisco down the line
Brent Jones won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. However, he does not revel in the glory of these championships, reliving the pain of those who escaped.
As the 49ers prepare for Sunday’s colossal clash in Philadelphia between the NFC’s two best teams for championship weekend, an animated and tormented Jones knows what lies ahead.
“It’s the hardest game,” he says. “You’re so close to tasting the sweetness of the Super Bowl. And if you lose, your whole season stops abruptly.
San Francisco 49ers legend Brent Jones speaks to DailyMail.com ahead of the NFC title game
Jones jumps into the end zone during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 1996
“I’ve played in seven NFC championship games and lost four. And those are the four games I remember – all these years later, those are the most painful memories I have. You could have been there, you were only inches away. You could have done this, you could have done that…’
Don’t those three rings actually soften the blow a bit?
“Man, you know, I think I should have five or six!” he counters. I felt like we had the best team in so many years! But if it’s not on the scoreboard, you can’t claim it.
The tight end was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1986 and released after a year, but was adopted by San Francisco. After passes from Joe Montana and Steve Young, he ended his career in 1997 after 143 games and three championships.
Jones played in the only playoff meeting between the teams — a 14-0 wildcard win in 1996 — and his love for the Niners is evident. He still refers to the team as “we” when breaking down the game.
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Jones won three Super Bowls with San Francisco but also lost four NFC title games with the team
“We have to execute offensively. We need to put more points on the board, more touchdowns, fewer field goals. I think the Eagles are a big challenge and we have to be offensive,” he says.
“Defensively, they present another challenge. They have a great tight end, some great receivers and a great quarterback. Even if we mark all these guys in the passing game, I get nervous because Jalen Hurts is running the ball. I hope we have a great defensive package, can put on some pressure and don’t let go of him with the ball in hand.”
The 49ers sailed past Seattle with a 41-23 win over wildcard weekend and prevailed in the divisional round with a grueling 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
But while Dallas didn’t pose much of a threat, the Eagles boast AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith — arguably the best receiving tandem in the league. The couple interferes with Jones’ sleep.
“It’s what keeps me up at night right now,” he says. “I think we’re still the best team defensively. I feel safe there. I think our offense played a remarkable role. Last week I felt for the first time that Dallas’ plan really put us under pressure and didn’t leave as many opportunities for big games as we’ve seen in recent weeks.
Jones is confident that the current generation of 49ers can follow in his footsteps and go all the way
“I think a big part of that was their pass rush and the Eagles can maybe bring more pass rush so we have to be prepared for that. But I’m sure our offense coaches have something in store for the Eagles. I still think there’s something special about this team and we’re just one win away from where we want to be, so I feel good about the game.
“I’m going to go the opposite way of last week’s defensive struggle. I think there will be a lot more points this week for whatever reason, just in my gut. I just have a feeling that will be the case. Lots of great players. Big spotlight game. Winner goes to the Super Bowl – loser goes home…’
Let’s not relive that but instead talk about George Kittle and San Francisco’s offensive arms.
“I think George is as good as tight end. I know Travis Kelce gets a lot of publicity and probably gets a lot more opportunities. I think George is the best overall tight end in the league in terms of running on speed routes and just overall ability on the block side of things.
“He broke early in the season and had a bit of a slow start, but in the second half of the season he developed like a gangster and really became one of the most popular targets.
Jalen Hurts is a problem for the 49ers and Jones says he was “kept up at night” by Eagles star
And then look at all the other guys we have. Brandon Aiyuk runs the best distances of anyone on the team. He’s precise. He does so many great things.
“Deebo is an explosive beast who can both come in from backcourt and catch the ball so he can do pretty much anything.
“But that season’s trajectory changed when the owner completed the trade for Christian McCaffrey, a damn fine running back and a damn fine athlete.
“What really challenges the defense is his reception skills. You can put him in the slot, you can run him out of the backfield, and he’s like a #1 wide receiver. And having that in the running back position creates so many matchup problems because he ends up against the 4th or 5th best coverage type and he can really create problems in the secondary.
“And his skills have allowed teams to focus on him so much that they focus less on Deebo and Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle.
“It’s almost like you have to choose your poison because you’re trying to stop a guy and someone else is going to hurt you. Very much a reflection of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense.’
Brock Purdy’s story captivated the sports world, and Jones was equally infatuated with the 23-year-old quarterback, the 262nd and final pick of the 2022 draft.
Christian McCaffrey was suffering from an injury but says he will play in Sunday’s big game
“Just a remarkable young child. You’ll even be challenged to make the team if you’re picked so late in the draft. But he did something that everyone talks about but very few do. He knew the offense inside and out. He was ready to play. He had the right demeanor, the right attitude, and he walked in.
“He came in and not just a game manager. He was aggressive. Kyle Shanahan names plays like he’s a 10-year veteran. He throws the ball across the field. He rolls onto his weak side. He throws the ball across the field. He was very accurate. He was very thoughtful with the ball.
“That’s usually the biggest challenge with young players. They don’t see the measurements in the NFL and how fast and how fast guys can close the gaps and catch balls or get into your trajectory. But he was able to explain that and was so impressive and he brought this team within a game of a Super Bowl.
“It was a remarkable turnaround – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
And finally, the 49ers have waited 27 years for their sixth Super Bowl. Could this be the year?
“Man, it feels like something out of a picture book,” says Jones, “I think it is, and man, what a hell of a story this is going to be!”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/nfl/article-11687049/Super-Bowl-49ers-legend-Brent-Jones-Eagles-Jalen-Hurts-San-Francisco-going-way.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Super Bowl: 49ers legend Brent Jones on the Eagles, Jalen Hurts and San Francisco down the line