SF 49ers: 4 best storylines over first six weeks of 2020

Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Jason Verrett #22 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Aiyuk, SF 49ers
Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers leaps over Marcus Epps #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

SF 49ers Good Storyline No. 3: Brandon Aiyuk, Javon Kinlaw are the real deal

When John Lynch drafted defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was with the intent of filling the holes in the roster created by the departures of DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason.

Many felt the two rookie first rounders could eventually break into the starting lineup and offset those losses.

And through six games, they have acquitted themselves well.

While they may not be household names just yet, both Aiyuk and Kinlaw are definitely making their mark. For Aiyuk, he continues to find a way to contribute with each passing week. His numbers — 14 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown, and four rushes for 69 yards and two more touchdowns — are modest, there is little doubt he brings a similar skill set as the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver, Deebo Samuel.

Aiyuk flashed some of that skill with his amazing touchdown run during Sunday Night Football against the Eagles in Week 4. Taking a backward pass from quarterback Nick Mullens, Aiyuk raced up the right sideline, leaped over safety Marcus Epps and into the end zone for a touchdown. It was an amazing play and showed a glimpse of what Lynch and Kyle Shanahan saw in Aiyuk when they drafted him 25th overall in last April’s Draft.

With Kinlaw, taken 14th overall, incredible size and speed are now being met with a better understanding of the intricacies of playing an interior defensive lineman’s position at the pro level.

Each week seems to show Kinlaw learning and adding to his technique, and his impact on the 49ers defense is readily apparent. While he has just 13 tackles (six solo, seven assisted) and zero sacks, numbers for interior defensive linemen can be misleading. Currently, he is tied for the rookie lead with 10 quarterback pressures, as well as batting down three passes for an injury-depleted 49er defensive.

In fact, Kinlaw is forging a strong bond with fellow defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who told 95.7 The Game:

"I’m really excited and impressed with Javon. His maturity definitely stands out, from Week 1, from day 1, he’s been able to come in here and handle everything that comes along with playing in the league and playing a lot of snaps in the league. He’s super mature, we need him out there, he’s dependable and we count on him to play big in games, and he’s been doing that. So, I love playing alongside him and it’s been exciting to see him, I’m excited to watch him continue to grow and become an even better and better player."

Overcoming the losses of players of Buckner and Sanders’ calibers was always going to be a tough challenge to overcome.

But, to the Niners’ credit, Kinlaw and Aiyuk are making filling those roles a little less daunting a task for the coaching staff.