ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Chris Jones provided a nice boost to the defense last week and coach Chip Kelly said the third-year player has earned more playing time.
Jones helped the 49ers hold Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi to just 45 yards on 18 carries in Jones' first start and first game being active since being signed on Nov. 8 to replace injured defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
San Francisco allowed 100-yard rushers for seven consecutive games prior to Sunday's game, a 31-24 loss.
''I thought he did a really nice job,'' Kelly said. ''He played 27 snaps, was positive on 24 of the 27. I think his background playing with the Patriots, being in Miami, he's obviously well-coached. So, to get a player of that caliber when we lost Armstead, it was kind of a surprise to us but we were really pleasantly surprised with what he had done and he's earned playing time.''
Jones said the defense has continued to get better over the last few games as they have focused on stopping the run.
''We're doing some things different and I think it's really helping out,'' Jones said. ''As you can see the defense, we're getting better each week.''
The 49ers will face another tough running back Sunday in the Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard. The rookie has rushed for 766 yards this season and is averaging 5.1 yards a carry. Jones said he's impressed with what he's seen from Howard and the Bears offensive line so far.
''For just being a rookie (Howard) definitely runs the ball really hard,'' Jones said. ''On their offensive line they have a lot of really well-coached guys, I know they have some guys that are down, but they have a lot of really well-coached guys up front and they know the scheme well.''
Jones, who started the season with the Dolphins, said he is excited to get another opportunity to play and hopes an improved run defense can lead the 49ers to some wins during the final stretch of the season.
''I love playing the game,'' Jones said. ''It was great to get out there Sunday for the first time in a few weeks and I'm hoping that they keep me going. But I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team prepare to win.''
Offensive lineman Joe Staley was impressed with Jones' effort in practice leading up to his first start. He said that it should be a message to others on the team to continue to work hard and close the season strong.
''You can see that he wants it,'' Staley said. ''It wasn't a surprise that he went out there and played well. The way he practiced and prepared, he was ready for his opportunity when it came.''
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