Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ Javon Kinlaw working to be ‘one of the best guys to do this’

Aug 3, 2021 at 6:22 AM--

When Javon Kinlaw first joined the San Francisco 49ers, his defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, would show him film of a younger Ndamukong Suh. Kinlaw watched Suh and Nick Fairley, two players who worked with Kocurek, in their prime. Kinlaw admired their violent playing style and ability to frustrate opposing offensive lines.

The young defensive lineman was inspired.

Kinlaw wants to be that type of player. He wants to one day be among the best ever to play the position. That, of course, means hard work and no time off. That has been the story of his offseason. Kinlaw hasn't had any breaks. He's been at the team's facility every day since February, working on improving. It's a much better situation than last offseason when he couldn't work in person with the team because of COVID.

What was his focus this offseason?

"Just my game all around, honestly," Kinlaw responded. "Just looking to be more effective on third down. Just looking to be better at stopping the run, have better pad level, use my hands more. Just my game as a whole, honestly. Even my cardio, being able to stick in the game more."

The effort may have paid off. On Monday morning, Kinlaw got his first reps in team drills after being limited in previous practices. The team wanted to be careful with its second-year defender. Kinlaw had two offseason procedures on his knee, the most recent to deal with some swelling from the first "clean-up procedure" after last season.

The defensive tackle insists he is 100 percent healthy. He figures he received about eight to 10 snaps on Monday.

"I wish I could have had all of them," Kinlaw said with a slight chuckle.

The defender is more comfortable now. Kinlaw says the game has slowed down, and he is even working on his pass-rushing skills after recording just 1.5 sacks during his rookie campaign. Luckily, he has two experts at frustrating opposing quarterbacks in Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Kinlaw is hungry to improve and willing to consume tips from anyone willing to share them.

"Just being able to get with those two and just pick their brains," Kinlaw said. "I always pick brains. I pick everybody's brain, honestly. I'm always looking to learn. I'm always trying to get better at everything I do. One day I'm going to be able to look back and say that I was one of the best guys to do this, so I'm always just wanting to learn something. Anything I ask them, they tell me what it is and what it ain't."

Some experts expect Kinlaw to have a breakout year after a somewhat underwhelming — at least statistically — first year. Analysts feel the tools are there for Kinlaw to be a disruptive force, and it sounds like he has his mind set on proving he can be among the best.

"That's just the mindset that I have," Kinlaw added. "I've had that mindset since I first started playing this game. I don't care what anyone thinks about how I am right now or anything like that. I don't care what they say. One day I will be [the best]. That's my take on that."

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