49ers Javon Kinlaw to pick up where DeForest Buckner left off

Javon Kinlaw #3 of the South Carolina Gamecocks (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Javon Kinlaw #3 of the South Carolina Gamecocks (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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South Carolina Gamecocks, Javon Kinlaw, 49ers
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina Gamecocks (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Why Javon Kinlaw improves with 49ers in 2020

Interior pass-rushers are at a prime in the NFL, and the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald and Kansas City Chiefs’ Chris Jones are other key examples in addition to DeForest Buckner.

Luckily, Javon Kinlaw flashed this kind of ability during his tenure at South Carolina, earning a college-career-high six sacks his senior season:

Javon Kinlaw Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2017 South Carolina SEC SO DL 7 12 5 17 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 2 1
*2018 South Carolina SEC JR DL 10 15 15 30 9.0 4.0 0 0 0 5 0 2
2019 South Carolina SEC SR DL 12 15 20 35 6.0 6.0 0 0 0 2 2 0
Career South Carolina 42 40 82 17.0 10.0 0 0 0 8 4 3

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 7/14/2020.

This stems from one of the most explosive snap get-offs out of this year’s draft class, and there’s little reason to suspect it won’t improve at the NFL level. Heck, it could be among the upper echelon of pass-rushers already.

And you can see this quickness combined with his strength on the tape, particularly in South Carolina’s prime matchup versus Alabama last season:

Kinlaw’s pass-rushing moves? Check. His agility for a big player? Check. Elite-level hand movement? Check. High-intensity motor? Check.

This is where things should get scary for opposing teams: Kinlaw doesn’t need to be the anchor for the 49ers defensive line. He’s already joining an elite cast of linemen, including first rounders Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, Nick Bosa.

The pairing could ultimately mean offensive lines’ focus points could be on the more-established veterans on the Niners roster, freeing up Kinlaw for many a one-on-one matchup.

And it’s reasonable to expect Kinlaw to win the majority of those.