Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports


What Javon Kinlaw Brings to the Table for the San Francisco 49ers

Apr 24, 2020 at 11:56 AM


Benjamin Franklin once said: "In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and the San Francisco 49ers taking a defensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft."

Okay, maybe I ad-libbed a little the end of that quote, but for the fifth time in six years, the 49ers used their first selection of the draft to bolster the team's pass rush. After trading back one spot, general manager John Lynch decided to find DeForest Buckner's replacement by picking Javon Kinlaw 14th overall last night. While it's unrealistic to expect him to immediately have the same impact as Buckner did in the last couple of seasons, the South Carolina product is a step in the right direction.

In my opinion, Kinlaw is the best interior pass rusher in this draft class.

He gets off the ball quickly on throwing downs, has good hand placement, can win with power moves like a push-pull or bull rush, and he can get pressure with finesse by getting on an edge and using a swim move. Combining all of this with a good motor and counter moves, the former Gamecock has plenty of tools in his tool belt to get after the quarterback.


As a run defender, he's better when given one-gap responsibilities as that assignment allows him to use his good get off and play in the offense's backfield. Kinlaw also has good upper body strength, as seen above, to get extension against offensive linemen and shed their blocks to be in a good position to make tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Of course, there are a few things that the young defensive lineman needs to work on at the next level.

When asked to play a two-gap assignment, he often false steps and stands up out of his stance, negating his ability to get off the ball and play with good pad level. This becomes especially worrisome when taking on double teams because he has no leverage and plays with a narrow base. More physical offensive linemen will be able to take advantage of this at the next level in one on one situations as well.

Kinlaw's upfield burst and agility can also be used against him, as he will overrun plays in the offense's backfield and offensive linemen can ride his momentum laterally to create bigger rushing lanes. He needs to learn how to stay under control when breaking through the line of scrimmage, and to stick his foot in the ground when slanting to fight back against blockers.

Replacing an elite interior defender isn't going to be an easy task for the 49ers' first-round pick. However, Kinlaw displayed plenty of traits in college to suggest that he'll be able to help San Francisco's defensive line maintain its status as one of the best in the NFL.
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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