49er star wows the crowd | January 30, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - January 30, 2009

49er star wows the crowd

Brent Jones dubbed 'Living Treasure'

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

When Brent Jones was in his first huddle at 49ers practice - called from the bench at training camp to try out as tight end - he looked around in awe at Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Jerry Rice and other NFL greats.

"I told myself, 'Be cool,'" Jones recalled last week at the Danville Community Center. "'Don't ask for their autographs.'"

Jones, who was named an All Pro four years and has been on three winning Super Bowl teams, was receiving his latest honor - being named a "Living Treasure" by the program of the same name at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley.

The former star tight end, who played with the Niners from 1987-97, regaled the crowd with stories of his football career, beginning with his youth when he preferred baseball but played both sports.

He mostly sat on the bench during football season in high school, then at the end of the season banquet the coach announced, "The guy with the most potential for the NFL is Brent Jones."

"Then why didn't you play him?" Jones remembered his dad muttering under his breath.

Jones attended Santa Clara University on a dual baseball and football scholarship but was dropped from baseball after an injury. When he saw his future as an NFL player, he began to focus on academics.

"In football you are always one play away from the end of your career," he noted.

During college he also met his future wife Dana, who was in the audience.

"She was the greatest girlfriend for a football player," Jones said with a huge smile. "She cut out my clippings. She cooked me food. I weighed 205 and needed to gain 30 pounds."

When he was drafted by the 49ers, he was one of 130 players trying to make the final cut and was tagged eighth-string tight end. "I was so depressed. I thought I would have to be flawless," he said.

Then one day the tight ends ahead of him were injured or unavailable and he was called into the memorable huddle. The next play he reached his arm out incredibly far to catch a flailing Montana pass and caught the attention of Coach Bill Walsh.

"Hey, Jones, you're doing a heckuva job out there. Keep it up," Walsh told him soon afterward. Jones called all his friends and family to repeat the glorious words.

He also drew laughter telling about East Coast competitors calling the 49ers a wimpy California team who couldn't take the cold.

"Hey, I've been to Tahoe,'" Jones recalled thinking in a macho manner. "But then I saw temperatures I never saw. Three. What's 3?"

He also remembered arriving at the stadium to hear Montana fans chant, "Joe! Joe! Joe!"

"It kind of sounds like 'Jones,'" he thought.

He, Dana and their two daughters moved to Danville from San Jose in 1995 because he was a little too visible and began to fear for their safety when he was on the road. The family loves it here, he said, and they quickly made themselves at home.

"There is part of the original carpool in the audience tonight," he announced.

Jones held the audience enthralled for a hour and a half, at which time organizer Betty Joyce presented him with the book "Vintage Danville." After the talk, Jones visited with fans and let them hold his Super Bowl ring.