Nearing the point of being labeled a bust forever, 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is poised to prove all the doubters wrong in 2022.
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw has every right to be angry heading into 2022.
He can be angry at the fact his two years in the NFL haven’t quite gone according to plan after the Niners traded away a fan-favorite, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, then turned around and used the pick acquired in exchange to net Kinlaw at No. 14 overall in the 2020 draft.
Kinlaw can be mad he was a main focus of opposing offensive lines his rookie season in light of San Francisco suffering so many other key injuries to cornerstone players who were supposed to help him. And he could be mad at his own chronic knee injuries, too, that limited him to a mere four games in what was supposed to be a breaking-out 2021 campaign.
And, yes, Kinlaw can be mad at Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn, too.
Now entering year three and removed from surgery on his knee that reportedly has him “feeling amazing,” the 49ers will look for Kinlaw to play angry and finally live up to the first-round pedigree he had coming out of South Carolina.
The context is there for him to thrive, too, serving as that pocket-wrecking interior presence who can make life that much easier for the Niners’ cast of outside pass-rushers and run-stoppers.
It’ll be crucial for him to do this.
San Francisco’s defensive line is deep heading into 2022, but its success or failure will hinge on Kinlaw’s success in a number of different ways.
Let’s explore how.