No. 2: SF 49ers Offensive Lineman Colton McKivitz
It’s no surprise a rookie offensive lineman is going to have some rough moments in training camp, particularly when tasked with going up against an elite-level defensive line on a regular basis.
But that’s the context for the Niners’ fifth-round rookie, offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, who has been bumping back and forth between tackle and guard as the SF 49ers look to address their depth issues behind the presumed starting five.
McKivitz has been overworked by a number of San Francisco’s more experienced defensive backups, including Kevin Givens and Kentavius Street. Those aren’t good looks, yet McKivitz managed to hold his own against Javon Kinlaw during one series of one-on-one matchups, at least according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn:
"When McKivitz and Kinlaw faced each other the first time Saturday, Kinlaw tried to do a quick move to the inside, but McKivitz blocked it. He stood up Kinlaw — just stopped him. Impressive, considering how huge Kinlaw is. Thirty seconds later, they faced each other again. This time, Kinlaw tried to beat McKivitz around the edge, but McKivitz punched him and knocked Kinlaw off balance, and Kinlaw fell on his back. McKivitz pancaked him. Good thing the 49ers don’t allow the media to film practice this season, because that clip would have gone viral. Kinlaw had good moments during practice, like when he faced center Daniel Brunskill. Kinlaw pushed him around. But he couldn’t push around McKivitz, who might just be the 49ers’ best rookie this season. It’s early, but he’s a contender."
True, Kinlaw needs to hone his raw skill set in order to reach his full potential. Right now, the rookie is relying on brute force, which worked in the NCAA ranks but won’t always cut it at the pro level.
That said, seeing McKivitz do this to one of San Francisco’s top investments is promising.
At least for the fifth-round rookie, not the first-round one. And while the Niners don’t necessarily need McKivitz to secure a key role right away, last year’s O-line attrition proved it’s important to have adequate depth up front.