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Should the 49ers cut DT Javon Kinlaw?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Jan 30, 2023 at 9:30 AM

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The offseason is officially upon us, as the San Francisco 49ers were eliminated by the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game to a score of 31-7 after losing quarterback Brock Purdy to injury on their first offensive drive.

The 49ers have many personnel decisions to make, as 25 players are currently scheduled for free agency, but there are other tough situations to handle, such as the contract of former first-round pick Javon Kinlaw, who has not looked the same post-injury, especially during his second stint with the team this season at the end of the year.

Kinlaw, however, has a fully-guaranteed cap hit of $4.928 million in 2022, which would force the 49ers to take in that amount in dead cap money if they choose to move on.

So, should the 49ers cut Javon Kinlaw?


Before we answer the question, many have proposed a potential trade for the young defensive tackle's services, be it for a late-round pick or whatever can be salvaged.

I don't think Kinlaw currently holds any trade value, as a team would have to pay $2.72 million in salary for a player who has a history of knee concerns, while looking limited in the explosiveness that provided him with the hype going into the 2020 NFL Draft.

Additionally, it's unclear whether the 49ers would want to part ways with a dead cap-hit if Kinlaw could be better than any of their depth pieces in 2023, as they're going to be responsible for his contract either way, which is why it makes sense to keep him through the offseason program and see if he can compete with the rotational pieces on the team.

For the following reasons, a Kinlaw trade seems unlikely at the moment.


Now, should the 49ers admit their losses and cut Kinlaw outright? No.

At the moment, with the lack of perceived trade value imposed on Kinlaw, there's no timeline on when the 49ers should cut Kinlaw, as they'd lose the money attached to him regardless.

A better solution would be to carry Kinlaw on the 90-man roster going into the offseason and let him compete with the remainder of the backup defensive linemen, evaluating his play in comparison to his peers.

If Kinlaw is a top-ten defensive lineman on the team in 2023, the 49ers should keep him. If he can't even scratch that surface, then the 49ers should cut their losses and continue forward with their best options along the defensive line.

But, it would be unnecessary to move on from Kinlaw early on, given that the money attached to him would be paid out regardless if he's released in March or August, and because the 49ers will have 90 roster spots on their early offseason roster.
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.
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  • Sl
    Get rid of him now. Its fools gold, even when he is healthy, he is nothing special, our fa pickups grade better. He is a distraction. Inly reason to keep him is to save face fir lynch. Heck with that.
    Jan 30, 2023 at 4:47 PM
  • J French
    Totally agree. Kinlaw can become a backup to Arik Armstrong only seeing the field as earned. 1 large 49er defensive line weakness is a true replacement for DJ Jones in the middle. The 49er defense was poor in critical short yardage run situations this season.
    Jan 30, 2023 at 9:50 AM


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