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Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

49ers DT Javon Kinlaw set to return after missing 12 weeks with knee injury

Rohan Chakravarthi
Dec 22, 2022 at 3:45 PM--

It's official: the San Francisco 49ers are activating defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw from Injured Reserve ahead of their Week 16 matchup against the Washington Commanders, marking his first potential appearance after missing 12 weeks with a knee issue.

Kinlaw, who is currently listed as questionable for Saturday's game, returned to practice this week, participating in two of the three days, but seemingly performing well enough for the 49ers to have confidence and activate him.

Prior to San Francisco's game against the Seattle Seahawks, head coach Kyle Shanahan had told reporters that the plan was to have Kinlaw practice this week, which ended up happening, and now the defensive tackle has a chance to face his first NFL action in nearly three months, which would significantly bolster the 49ers' interior defensive line.

Defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Hassan Ridgeway have battled recent injuries, with the latter being placed on Injured Reserve last week, leaving a hole along the interior, which had been filled by versatile veteran Kerry Hyder Jr. and practice squad call-ups T.Y. McGill and Akeem Spence.

What are the implications of Kinlaw's return?

Potential returns of other players

Earlier this week, in addition to Kinlaw returning to practice, the 49ers opened the practice window for rookie defensive tackle Kalia Davis, who has been on the Non-Football Injury List(NFI) all season after suffering an ACL tear during the final year of his collegiate career.

With Kinlaw's return now being official with his activation, does it rule out the possibility of Kalia Davis returning? Not necessarily.

Every year, each team is allowed eight players that can be designated to return, be it from Injured Reserve or the NFI list, according to the rule changes this offseason.

However, Davis does not take up one of the team's eight annual designations to return spots, as he was placed on the list prior to the beginning of the season, which means he can return and the 49ers would keep one of their designations available, presumably for Elijah Mitchell.

But, this likely rules out any possibility of a return for quarterback Trey Lance, which was already unlikely, as the last spot should go to Elijah Mitchell, whom Kyle Shanahan said is on track to return during the playoffs on Thursday.

"He's doing good," Shanahan said. "I saw him there running on the side, and it seems like he's right on track."

On the other side, the Washington Commanders are returning a young defensive lineman of their own, as defensive end Chase Young is set to come back from an ACL tear on Saturday, marking his first appearance of the season.

Both teams have significant playoff implications on the line in this Week 16 matchup as the season dwindles down, with the 49ers fighting for seeding, while the Commanders are trying to remain in the race for a spot.
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.

1 Comment

  • algo
    This is the last chance for Kinlaw. If he gets hurt one more time this year, his football career is over with forever. I personally believe his knees are gone. I've had 3 of the same surgeries of both knees. With 300 pounds and being a professional defensive tackle, I just know his knees will not last. Grant Cohn knows this and so does Kinlaw's orthopedic doctors.
    Dec 23, 2022 at 1:34 AM


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