49ers roster: 5 most important defensive players entering 2021

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Javon Kinlaw, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (99) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers Most Important Defender No. 4: Defensive Tackle Javon Kinlaw

Perhaps expectations were a bit too high on the 49ers’ top pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who flashed moments of brilliance but ultimately disappointed in pure production, as his 1.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss suggest.

Kinlaw will need to take a massive leap in year two, and there are a number of reasons why one should expect him to do so. The physical tools are there. Now, it’s just a matter of the No. 14 overall pick from last year’s draft fine-tuning his skills towards becoming a prolific playmaker.

Read More: 3 areas in which Javon Kinlaw must improve in 2021

The Niners don’t necessarily need Kinlaw to be a 10-plus sack guy each and every year. No, his duties are going to be creating disruption right in front of him, locking up multiple blockers which help free up his fellow pass-rushers like Nick Bosa for more one-on-one matchups.

In a pass-happy league, a player like Kinlaw is extremely valuable and vital to a team relying on its outside pass rush to have success.

While his 2021 stats may not necessarily jump off the table, look for him to be crucial in ensuring San Francisco’s defensive line returns to the kind of prowess it had two years ago.