Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ Javon Kinlaw among PFF’s highest-graded rookies in Week 1; Kyle Shanahan says he had ‘a hell of a game’

Sep 15, 2020 at 7:03 AM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw only played 39 snaps during Sunday's Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Still, he walked away with the team's fourth-highest grade from Pro Football Focus. Only tackle Trent Williams, pass rusher Nick Bosa, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw earned higher grades.

Not only that, but Kinlaw earned the third-highest Week 1 grade among NFL rookies. Only Chase Young of Washington and C.J. Henderson of the Jacksonville Jaguars ranked above the 49ers defender.

By Monday afternoon, Kyle Shanahan had a chance to review the game film from the loss, and the head coach came away pleased with Kinlaw's performance.

"I was really happy with Javon," Shanahan told reporters via a Zoom call. "He'd been battling here through camp trying to learn how to play D-Line in the NFL while going against all our run stuff and everything. I think it was really nice for him to get out there and go against someone else."

Pro Football Focus credited Kinlaw with two total pressures and a tackle during those 39 snaps. The stats don't jump out at you, but the analytics site did note that the rookie defender didn't really have any bad plays against the Cardinals.

"Kinlaw didn't particularly pack the stat sheet, but he did come away with a couple of big-time plays that helped him produce the third-best PFF grade at the position (81.4)," wrote Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus. "His best play of the day was this dominant double-swipe move that J.R. Sweezy had no chance on, which forced the inaccurate throw from quarterback Kyler Murray. The Niners' first-round pick played 39 defensive snaps, coming away with two total pressures and one defensive stop."

The 49ers coach was even more enthusiastic while discussing the rookie's NFL debut.

"I thought he had a hell of a game," Shanahan continued. "He made a number of plays. It's also a tough team to do that against. Just the way their scheme is, how quickly they have the screens and everything and the way their quarterback plays. It was a real good first game for him."

San Francisco made Kinlaw the No. 14 overall pick in April's draft. The massive defender is expected to help at least partially offset the loss of DeForest Buckner, who in March was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.

"He's a lot to deal with," Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams said of Kinlaw earlier this month. "Even when he's pulling up, and kind of pulling off his rush, you still feel that power, you still feel that size. You can't really teach that. You can't coach that.

"I think he's going to be a heck of a player. I tell him all the time he's got Defensive Player of the Year written all over him."

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