Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers’ Arik Armstead says Javon Kinlaw will ‘bounce back,’ have ‘a promising career’

Oct 27, 2021 at 10:41 AM--

While terms like "injury-prone" and "bust" are being thrown out by fans discussing Javon Kinlaw, the San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle's coaches and teammates haven't given up on the 24-year-old second-year player. Year 2 might be a premature time to assume Kinlaw is yet another first-round misfire for the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan regime, but social media being what it is hasn't slowed the chatter.

Kinlaw is still dealing with the knee injury suffered on December 20, 2020, against the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers had hoped that multiple offseason procedures would have helped get Kinlaw to 100 percent for this season, but the setbacks continued, and the effects of the injury still linger.

The 49ers have tried to manage the injury, limiting Kinlaw's work between games and allowing him to rest. In fact, Kinlaw has not been a full participant in a practice this season, and the defensive lineman didn't practice at all last week. Last Friday, Shanahan told reporters that injured reserve is a possibility for Kinlaw, which would force him to miss a minimum of three games.

"J.K. is an amazing player," defensive lineman Arik Armstead said on KNBR's Murph & Mac show this week. "Obviously, we're missing him out there. He's an impactful player, a young player who's going to have a promising career, and he's just dealing with some things physically that are kind of out of his control."

Armstead knows a thing or two about dealing with injuries. He landed on injured reserve in 2016 (shoulder) and 2017 (hand). Armstead remembers the criticisms too, and the feeling of being powerless to prove them wrong.

"Early in my career, I was on injured reserves my second and third year, and that was tough," Armstead continued. "It's just beyond your control, not being able to be out there, not being able to get those reps, get better, help your team.

"A lot of tough times, but J.K. has been through a lot worse throughout his life. Getting to know him, a young man that was homeless at a time as a kid and had a really tough upbringing. And tough times breed tough people, and I know he's going to bounce back from this and be better moving forward. And I can't wait to have him back on the field."

San Francisco selected Kinlaw out of South Carolina with the No. 14 overall pick in 2020, a selection initially acquired by trading All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. That created a lot of pressure on Kinlaw to replace the talented defensive lineman.

Kinlaw has recorded eight tackles and one quarterback hit through four games this season.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Armstead below.

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