The San Francisco 49ers are suspected to grab a wide receiver at No. 13 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, but rumors now suggest defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is the target instead.
It’s the time of year where rumors run rampant, and the San Francisco 49ers certainly aren’t immune to that sort of chatter when it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft.
For months, the idea has been the Niners would target a wide receiver in Round 1. After all, it’s widely viewed as the weakest position on the team. And after losing veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders to the New Orleans Saints in free agency, one could easily figure head coach Kyle Shanahan would want a solid replacement as soon as possible in an awfully deep wide receiving draft class.
The scope changed, of course, when San Francisco traded Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall draft, opening up a slew of additional possibilities for the 49ers to grab a wide receiver earlier.
But that’s not what NBC Sports’ Peter King is hearing.
King broke down rumors for each team around the league in the waning days before the NFL Draft, and he has the Niners looking at a defensive tackle to replace Buckner:
"Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. Another defensive lineman in the first round?!! This sounds crazy, and maybe it is, after all the first-round defensive-line capital the Niners have used up. (Consider Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Nick Bosa in the last five drafts.) But I hear the Niners are desperate for a space-eating defensive tackle who can threaten the pocket, and that’s what the 315-pound and athletic Kinlaw does."
Yes, this does seem like a provocative move by general manager John Lynch. But there is some merit to it.
For starters, the Niners don’t have any clear-cut answer on the roster to replace Buckner. Thomas would have ideally been the proverbial “next man up” in the rotation, but his first three years at the NFL level have largely been underwhelming after being selected No. 3 overall by the 49ers back in 2017.
Additionally, the 2020 draft class is nowhere near as deep along the defensive line, and it’s not out of the question San Francisco uses its second of two first-round picks on a wide receiver instead of going this route at No. 13 as initially anticipated.
Auburn’s Derrick Brown is widely viewed as the best interior defensive lineman in this year’s draft class, although he’s likely long gone by the time the Niners select first in Round 1. Kinlaw, however, is looked at as a realistic target in the teens, and it wouldn’t be overly shocking at all to see the 49ers keep what was their strongest unit from last season as intact as possible heading into 2020.
By that assessment, King’s report has some validity.
On a related side note, Kinlaw ended up being San Francisco’s top choice after a trade down in Niner Noise’s most recent mock NFL Draft.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23.