49ers finally hoping for big returns on Kentavius Street investment

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street (95) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kentavius Street (95) Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers’ fourth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, Kentavius Street, had a sluggish start to his pro career, but things are turning around in 2021.

Some players simply don’t develop as quickly as others. That’s just the nature of the NFL.

And it’s probably the situation for San Francisco 49ers‘ fourth-year pro defensive tackle Kentavius Street, the Niners’ Round 4 pick from the 2018 NFL Draft who suffered a torn ACL during a pro-day workout and eventually was forced to redshirt his rookie season with the injury.

It was a questionable pick at the time, forcing many a fan to hearken back to the days when former general manager Trent Baalke regularly drafted collegiate players coming off serious injuries despite San Francisco’s roster being in an obvious decline.

While the 2018 49ers were on the rise, they still had plenty of holes to fill, and Street didn’t fit an immediate need.

Street’s career got off to a slow start, too, with him playing just three games in 2019 before seeing 15 last year in part-time, fill-in duties en route to 11 tackles.

With the Niners getting some much-needed defensive reinforcement back entering 2021, it made sense why Street was going to enter training camp on the bubble.

Good thing he’s responded well.

Kentavius Street has been underappreciated 49ers story in 2021

San Francisco’s defensive line was stacked in 2019, effectively Street’s first year in the NFL, so it makes sense why he didn’t see much of the field. And despite multiple injuries to this unit a year ago, the 49ers still had plenty of depth options to keep Street from securing a regular role.

A lot of those reserve options are gone now, however, and Street’s chances have been there. By all accounts, he’s making the most of them.

Including this one-on-one dominant drill in joint practices against the Los Angeles Chargers this week (h/t Leo Luna of 49ers Gold Mine):

This hasn’t just been a one-off either.

Street has regularly worked with the Niners’ first-string defensive line on the interior, particularly at times when second-year pro Javon Kinlaw, San Francisco’s first-round pick from a year ago, has been out with minor injuries.

And by all accounts, Street has handled himself exceptionally well, displaying his strength and a budding array of quality pass-rushing moves.

Read More: Kentavius Street facing a do-or-die season in 2021

These kinds of performances might not be enough to get Street into a starting role anytime soon, if at all. The 49ers would much rather see Kinlaw emerge as that high-motor pocket-wrecking force.

Yet there’s still room for Street to make a massive impact as a key rotational player and reserve, who’ll likely be in for a bigger role this season after showing off for all the right reasons leading up to Week 1.

As for him being on the roster bubble, it’s safe to say he’s about as close to a lock to make it as he possibly could be.

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