3 under-the-radar 49ers who could make an impact in 2020
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: 49ers Defensive Tackle Jullian Taylor
San Francisco’s defensive line still remains the most potent unit on the team heading into 2020 despite losing defensive tackle Sheldon Day in free agency and trading away Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts last spring.
The Niners used the Buckner trade in a roundabout NFL Draft-way to select South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14 overall, and the prognosis is for Kinlaw to assume Buckner’s role as the interior 3-technique defensive lineman.
Kinlaw is expected to be an every-down player at some point soon in his career, but it might be premature for the team to expect him to fill Buckner’s shoes right away.
Instead, there’s likely to be a rotation up front along the D-line, which puts third-year pro defensive tackle Jullian Taylor in prime position to make an impact.
Taylor, who saw scant action the last two years because of Buckner’s never-ending presence on the field, could see an uptick in snaps this season while spelling Kinlaw. The two have a similar build at 6-foot-5, although Taylor is slightly lighter at 305 pounds. And while Kinlaw has far more prowess, Taylor’s pedigree and preseason efforts not long ago suggest he can be a worthy defensive fill-in when needed.
Expect Taylor’s name to be called a bit more often this season, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him a solid substitutional player in 2020.