The 49ers have been forced to carefully navigate Javon Kinlaw’s knee injury, which seems to be carrying over from last year into 2021.
But they should be at least a little concerned.
As pointed out by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, Kinlaw missed the final two games of his rookie year with an injury to his knee that eventually required offseason surgery. The injury and subsequent recovery forced Kinlaw to miss the opening portion of training camp, and he was also limited during the preseason, too.
One of the concerns many scouts had about Kinlaw heading into last year’s draft was the possibility of arthritis in his knees.
And with Kinlaw missing the opening day of practices ahead of the Niners Week 1 regular-season opener against the Detroit Lions, it’s understandable why the concerns should be a bit bigger.
Increasing modest hope is the fact Kinlaw was at least upgraded to limited in practice on Thursday, which puts his status for Week 1 into a bit better light.
Although the final game designation might not be released until late Friday, and even then, it could potentially be ruled as questionable.
On Friday morning, however, general manager John Lynch told KNBR 680 that Kinlaw’s knee was remaining problematic.
Good thing 49ers are getting quality production from Kentavius Street
After being something of an afterthought the last two years, San Francisco’s fourth-round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft, defensive tackle Kentavius Street, is finally appearing to be offering up quality play after being mostly a non-factor the last two years.
Street, who redshirted his rookie year because of a pre-draft torn ACL, was one of the 49ers’ camp standouts, and that impressive play continued into the preseason.
This alone won’t automatically move Street ahead of Kinlaw on the depth chart. But it’s highly possible the Niners put Kinlaw on something of a pitch count for Sunday’s game, should he be able to play, then rotating Street in on a regular basis.
Related Story: 49ers finally hoping for big returns from Kentavius Street
Fortunately for San Francisco, the defensive line depth is widely viewed as one of the team’s biggest strengths heading into 2021.
And judging by Kinlaw’s seemingly chronic knee issues, it’s certainly a bonus to have someone like Street waiting in the fray.
The 49ers and Lions kick off on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. ET from Ford Field.