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Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN lists 49ers’ Javon Kinlaw among 10 rookies who landed with perfect teams

May 4, 2020 at 11:06 AM--

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Thirty-seven tackles and three sacks.

Those are the statistics that ESPN analyst Mike Clay projects for San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw in 2020.

It's a great pairing between player and team, though, according to ESPN writer Matt Bowen's list of 10 rookies who landed with perfect teams. San Francisco selected Kinlaw at No. 14 overall to replace Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. That is a tall order for Kinlaw, who is well aware of the expectations he has inherited.

"I was watching DeForest since he was coming out of college," Kinlaw told reporters after being drafted. "I know he started off as a raw player, and he developed into a monster. I feel like once I can get that type of coaching, I can probably be somebody like him."

That's how Bowen envisions Kinlaw, too. The young defensive lineman is a player who can develop into an interior force, as Buckner was, but without the hefty salary-cap impact over the next four to five years.

Bowen feels Kinlaw naturally fits into what the 49ers do along the defensive front and has the physical traits and frame to win at the point of attack.

"While the South Carolina product doesn't have the same fluid ability of veteran DeForest Buckner -- whom the 49ers traded for a first-round pick -- I look at Kinlaw's combination of linear burst and power in San Francisco's multiple fronts," writes Bowen. "That's where defensive coordinator Robert Saleh can scheme interior one-on-ones and use twist stunts to get Kinlaw in favorable pass-rush matchups.

"He's an ascending talent who can develop into an interior force, and he's a great fit in the middle of this loaded front seven."

Oh, and as a small added bonus, trading down from No. 13 to No. 14 and still getting their target in Kinlaw will save San Francisco nearly $730,000 over the next four years, according to

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