Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Five 49ers poised to break out in 2021

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jun 21, 2021 at 2:15 PM--


With organized team activities (OTAs) over, teams are beginning to look forward to training camp, which begins in July.

The 49ers were one of the most injury-riddled teams in 2021, and have had their fair share of bad luck already, as running back Jeff Wilson tore his meniscus, swing tackle Justin Skule tore his ACL, and safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles.

Still, there is much to look forward to, starting with these five players who are poised to breakout in 2021.

1. DT Javon Kinlaw


Perhaps the most obvious pick on the list, Kinlaw seems to be on the verge of breaking out in his sophomore season.

Last season, Kinlaw played in 14 games, starting 12, and had 33 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one interception to go along with 19 pressures.

While the 1.5 sacks may seem underwhelming, especially considering the production of DeForest Buckner, who Kinlaw replaced, the rookie's 19 pressures show that sacks do not tell the full story.

More importantly, Kinlaw was playing without several key contributors on the defensive line in Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, and Solomon Thomas.

In 2019, when the 49ers defense was at its best, the 49ers thrived when all four of their main defensive players, Ford, Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Buckner, were on the field.

With the aforementioned injuries, offensive coordinators were able to shift towards containing Kinlaw and Armstead.


In addition, Kinlaw did not have a normal offseason last year, as COVID-19 protocols limited his opportunity to adapt to the NFL system before being thrust into the game plan.

However, this offseason, new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans singled out Kinlaw, praising his efforts in a media appearance.

"Kinlaw, he's looking awesome," the coach told reporters. "I think it's really vital for him to really have these OTAs, and it's been great that all our guys have showed up, and we've been able to practice.

"Kinlaw is able to really hone in and focus on his techniques, which he missed coming in as a rookie. OTAs are very, very important. For him to miss that time last year, I think he's going to take a huge jump this year."

With a full offseason and a year of experience under his belt, barring any injuries, look for Kinlaw to be a prime breakout candidate in 2021.

2. DT D.J. Jones


Not only is Javon Kinlaw a breakout candidate, but his running mate along the defensive line, D.J. Jones, is as well.

Jones re-signed with the 49ers in the offseason on a one-year, $3.5 million deal and should start as the other defensive tackle, barring injury.

Jones had a career-high in sacks last year, with three on the season, despite the injuries on the defensive line this past season.

With Bosa back and Ryans wanting to install a more aggressive defensive scheme, Jones should be another breakout candidate alongside Kinlaw in that stout 49ers defensive line.

3. WR Jalen Hurd


Yes, I know. Hurd seems to always be a "breakout candidate," but this is the year during which Hurd really has a chance to crack the rotation in that third wideout spot, should he stay healthy.

His teammate, Jimmy Garoppolo, raved about him last month, and can't wait for Hurd to get back on the field.

"Jay's come a long way. He really has in his route running, just developing his body and becoming a pro," Garoppolo said. "I mean, the guy does it the right way. I'm dying to get him out there right now, I really am. He's such a physical freak, just the things he can do in his route running, with the ball in his hands, it's very impressive. So, hopefully, we'll get to put those on display and get him out there as soon as possible."

Hurd tore his ACL in last year's training camp, which was just another setback that has cost the 2018 third-rounder, as he has yet to play in an NFL game.

However, with Kendrick Bourne, last year's slot receiver, now on the New England Patriots, there is an opening for the versatile Hurd, should he prove himself in training camp.

Hurd's physical traits make him a favorable candidate, and the praise he has received makes him another one of San Francisco's breakout candidates.

4. LB Dre Greenlaw


Dre Greenlaw came into the spotlight as a rookie, highlighting himself as a steal after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

In his two seasons in the NFL, Greenlaw has been a tackle machine, racking up 178 total tackles, while also being a contributor in the passing game, complementing All-Pro Fred Warner as an outside linebacker.

So, why is he on this list?

Well, with Ryans' new adjustments with the defensive scheme, Greenlaw should have more opportunities to showcase his skillset.

Ryans praised Greenlaw's performance in OTAs and was confident that Greenlaw would show growth in the upcoming season.

"Just how he's developed and how he's gotten better throughout these OTAs, I'm fired up to see his growth this year," Ryans said.

The more aggressive defensive scheme should put more focus on the linebackers as offenses will have to adjust, which will give Greenlaw the opportunity to take another step forward and become one of the game's best young linebackers.

Ryans was also the former linebackers coach, and his experience with the linebacker group should make the transition easier for Greenlaw.

Greenlaw's role should increase in 2021 if he remains healthy, as the midseason departure of Kwon Alexander opened up the linebacker room.

Look out for the young linebacker to be another prime breakout candidate this season.

5. CB Emmanuel Moseley


Emmanuel Moseley re-signed with the 49ers this offseason on a two-year, $10 million deal to return as the starting outside cornerback opposite Jason Verrett for the upcoming NFL season.

Moseley has played in 29 games over the past two seasons, starting 17 games, and has been a pleasant surprise after going undrafted.

However, Moseley had been entrenched in a competition with disappointing cornerback Akhello Witherspoon. With Witherspoon now on the Seattle Seahawks, Moseley is set to start in that spot for the season.

Jason Verrett and K'Waun Williams have both been top-level corners when healthy at their respective positions, which will only help Moseley more. While rookie Ambry Thomas may pose a challenge, the job is Moseley's to lose, making him as another breakout candidate with the extended opportunities.

In addition, with a healthy defense on all three levels, less pressure will be put on the cornerback group, which will only benefit Moseley, who is heading into his fourth NFL season.

All five of these 49ers are potential breakout candidates going into the 2021 NFL season and should be given the opportunities to contribute.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Comparing Offensive Rosters: 2019 49ers vs. 2021 49ers

By Brian Renick
Jan 11

The San Francisco 49ers are heading back to the playoffs for the first time since their 2019 Super Bowl run after a thrilling Week 18 overtime victory against the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers were a 13-3 powerhouse in 2019, earning the #1 seed and a first-round bye, but this 2021 version, a 10-game winner and the 6th seed, may actually be better positioned to win it all than the 2019 squad. Let's compare the offensive position groups from each season to see who has the edge. Quarterback 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo 16 games, 329/476 69.1%, 3978 yds, 27 TDs and 13 INTs, 2.7 INT% Nick Mullens 2021 Jimmy Garoppolo 15 games,



49ers' Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel named to 2021 NFL All-Pro Team

By David Bonilla
Jan 14

Two San Francisco 49ers players were named to their first NFL All-Pro team. One is third-year wide receiver Deebo Samuel, one of the most dynamic players in the game. The second is the team's nine-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle, Trent Williams. Both were first-team selections. Until now, Williams, a first-round draft pick in 2010, has gone his entire career without being named to an All-Pro team, which may be difficult to believe. On Thursday, a reporter asked the veteran tackle what it would mean to finally be named an All-Pro. "I think it would feel good, finally," Williams responded. "It sucks because I can't let it define my career because I've never made it. If I felt like that's what I needed to define my career, then anything I've done up to



Ambry Thomas makes a believer out of Shanahan, 49ers Faithful with game-sealing interception

By Kirk Larrabee
Jan 9

The San Francisco 49ers had a long list of unexpected heroes in their 27-24 overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but none of them made for a better feel-good story than rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas. A third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan, Thomas has come a long way in a short time for the 49ers after being used sparingly earlier in the year. Thomas was inactive for much of the first half of the season and only saw 20 total snaps on defense before Week 14, then was eventually pressed into action due to injuries and entered the starting lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. He had some struggles at first, but Thomas eventually came into his own and has been a significant contributor on defense ever



49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo toughs it out to win OT thriller against the Rams

By Chris Beno
Jan 10

The San Francisco 49ers' decision to play quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday against the rival Los Angeles Rams was heavily scrutinized from the start. And rightfully so. Garoppolo suffered a torn ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand during the Week 16 game against the Tennessee Titans. That injury will require surgery this offseason. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan felt confident with putting Garoppolo out there Sunday in a must-win matchup to make the playoffs. The uncertainty of that decision left many fans on edge leading up to and during the game at SoFi Stadium. When the 49ers fell behind by 17 points in the first half of the game, it appeared that head coach Kyle Shanahan's decision was going to be the nail in the coffin for their season, as


Featured

Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone