49ers DT Kentavius Street must stay healthy in 2020
By Peter Panacy
49ers defensive tackle Kentavius Street hasn’t been much a factor since his 2018 drafting, meaning his 2020 health efforts are critical.
It was a bit of a shock when the San Francisco 49ers used a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on former NC State defensive tackle Kentavius Street.
Street, after all, suffered a torn ACL during a pre-draft workout and was expected to redshirt his rookie campaign. And after a long history of selecting injured players in the draft under former general manager Trent Baalke, many would have thought 49ers general manager John Lynch would avoid going down a similar path.
Yet Lynch didn’t, and Street subsequently joined the Niners that year, sitting out his inaugural pro campaign while recovering.
And he appeared in merely three games in 2019 before landing on injured reserve again with a knee injury, prompting questions whether the Niners potentially wasted that fourth-round selection. Street’s collegiate campaign suggested he could be a powerful interior defender, capable of offering up something in the pass rush while eating up double teams and stuffing the run:
|*2014||North Carolina State||ACC||FR||DE||11||9||13||22||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|*2015||North Carolina State||ACC||SO||DT||11||10||20||30||2.5||0.0||0||0||0||2||1||1|
|*2016||North Carolina State||ACC||JR||DE||12||13||17||30||9.0||5.5||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|*2017||North Carolina State||ACC||SR||DE||12||16||22||38||6.5||2.5||0||0||0||1||2||1|
|Career||North Carolina State||48||72||120||19.0||8.0||0||0||0||5||4||2|
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
San Francisco could easily be getting impatient with the powerful-yet-injury-prone 6-foot-2, 287-pound defender, though, putting his immediate 2020 efforts in training camp under the spotlight.
Niner Noise’s “Who Is?” series explores what Street will need to do to make the team’s 53-man roster this season.
Why Kentavius Street improves with 49ers in 2020
One of Street’s best attributes is his strength. There was a video of him going around where Street squatted 700 pounds, which showcases this attribute. And he’ll need to harness that into practical on-field efforts this season to have any chance of making the cut.
Street isn’t overly quick despite a strong first step at the college level, so using that strength to simply overpower interior blockers will go a long way.
If Street regularly gets into the backfield during practices and scrimmages, his stock value as a reserve interior defender will rise significantly.
Why Kentavius Street regresses with 49ers in 2020
Street hasn’t exactly gotten a lot of practical experience since his final collegiate year in 2017. The lack of chances won’t help his development, and the Niners have already made numerous moves to reinforce the defensive line elsewhere.
While San Francisco’s D-line depth remains something of a question, it’s possible Street won’t get a lot of first- or second-team reps during training camp, meaning he’ll miss out on those valuable opportunities to impress both defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and D-line coach Kris Kocurek.
And that could push Street into being more of a forgotten commodity.
Chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster
Street will be competing with a number of other defensive linemen coming off injury, including Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor. The Niners’ first-round pick from 2017, Solomon Thomas, is also in the mix for competition along with some other names like Alex Barrett, Darrion Daniels and Kevin Givens.
Yet for Street to hang around, he’ll need to outcompete at least two or three of those names to stand a chance. Given the problems associated with doing so, it’s pretty safe to assume Street is on the weaker portion of the roster bubble entering training camp.
The good news, however, is recent NFL mandates allow teams to keep 16 players on their practice squad. Street would be eligible anyway, but it wouldn’t be too shocking to see him wind up spending some time here in hopefully a fully healthy capacity.
As such, Street’s health once again emerges as a top goal.
If Street can’t stay healthy, or totally fails to impress during camp, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Niners move on, perhaps with an injury designation or a simple waive process. One shouldn’t expect him on the 53-man roster unless other players aren’t healthy enough to go.
But at this point, any contribution from Street would be a bonus.