Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers GM John Lynch compares Javon Kinlaw’s potential to a Hall of Fame defender

Jan 10, 2021 at 8:19 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers are excited about defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw's potential. While the rookie defender recorded just 1.5 sacks during his first NFL season, he showed flashes of being a powerful playmaker who could develop into an elite talent along the interior of the defensive line.

"I think Kinlaw is going to be a dominant force in this league," John Lynch told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on The TK Show podcast. "I should say, 'is going to become,' because he's not there yet. He's shown flashes."

Lynch knows a thing or two about impressive defensive-line play. He played behind a Hall of Famer in Warren Sapp. In fact, watching his former teammate cause havoc on opposing offenses led to the belief that a strong defensive front is the best way to build a defense. That's exactly the philosophy in San Francisco. After all, Sapp made then-safety Lynch's job a whole lot easier in Tampa Bay.

So, when Lynch compares Kinlaw to Sapp, it is a great compliment.

"I played with Warren Sapp, and I remember Kinlaw's rookie year was about like Warren Sapp's rookie year," Lynch shared. "They're different players. Kinlaw's a much bigger man, but I think they both have the ability. Warren Sapp, obviously, I'm setting a high standard, maybe the best ever to do it. But I think back, I think the point I'm trying to illustrate, defensive linemen don't always just come in and dominate right away in terms of numbers and all that."

Kinlaw finished his rookie season with 33 tackles, three tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, an interception, a touchdown, and four passes defensed to go along with his 1.5 sacks through 14 games. According to Pro Football Focus, his 19 quarterback pressures ranked third among rookie defensive tackles.

"Now, Kinlaw showed us enough, and then more importantly, showed us, I think, the mentality," Lynch continued. "He wants to be great. He's willing to put forth the effort to be great and do the things necessary.

"He battled. He was on the COVID list at one point. I think that took some time away from him. And then, late in the year, at Dallas, he banged his knee on that turf, and it stayed swollen for a couple of weeks, so we kept him out there the last couple of weeks. But we're very excited about Javon.

"He works with an excellent coach in Kris Kocurek. He's really ingratiated himself to his teammates. They have the utmost respect. I think the arrow is up for Javon, and we're very excited about moving forward with him."

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