SF 49ers: Film doesn’t lie from Week 1 vs. Cardinals

Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals tackled by Emmanuel Moseley #41 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Kenyan Drake #41 of the Arizona Cardinals tackled by Emmanuel Moseley #41 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Javon Kinlaw, 49ers
Javon Kinlaw #99 of the San Francisco 49ers and Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images). /

SF 49ers defensive analysis: Why Javon Kinlaw has to start

There was an obvious difference in the defensive line’s ability to make penetration and stand up against the Cardinals run game. That difference came from when Javon Kinlaw, the SF 49ers rookie defensive tackle, replaced Solomon Thomas.

Kinlaw was an immovable object, whilst also initially pushing his man the furthest back in pass-rush situations more than any other SF 49ers defensive linemen.

Kinlaw has power, as I talk about here in my video analyzing his performance.

When Kinlaw, under the tutelage of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, develops a push-pull move and other counters to his initial power and burst off of the line of scrimmage, the rookie will put up monstrous numbers.

Kinlaw also has a teammate, Nick Bosa, and he’s pretty good and will pair with Kinlaw to provide the Niners with a terrifying tag-team that will constantly target the opposition quarterback.

Kinlaw also showed off his smarts and the film work he did in the week leading up to the game.

The Cardinals ran a GT Counter — GT stands for guard and tackle — to San Francisco’s right side. This means the Cardinals’ right guard and right tackle pulled to the SF 49ers right from the left, as Kinlaw was the left defensive tackle, or the 1-technique, lining up between the Cardinals center and right guard. Now, as the right guard was pulling, this meant the center has a down block on Kinlaw.

Kinlaw manhandled the center, threw the center to his left, and then made the tackle on the running back. Not only did Kinlaw recognize the right guard and tackle pulling, but Kinlaw also reacted like a veteran, destroying his blocker and making the play.

However, this play by Kinlaw was not his only impressive play. Just the play before Kinlaw was double teamed by the Cardinals center and left guard. Kinlaw did not budge, and when the left guard climbed to the second level, Kinlaw effectively double gapped, controlling the center at the point of attack.

The 49ers play a one-gap scheme, where each player is responsible for one gap in the run game, with Kinlaw manhandling the center like that, it makes you wonder if the 49ers defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, can put more on Kinlaw’s plate and allow Kinlaw to double gap.

Kinlaw has power and has to start for San Francisco moving forward.