Projected role for Javon Kinlaw this season
Remember that part about context? It matters here.
The 49ers made up for losing Javon Kinlaw in part by moving Arik Armstead inside, but the uptick in usage of nose tackle D.J. Jones helped alleviate the loss, too. However, with Jones now a member of the Denver Broncos, the Niners will need to get Kinlaw playing at his best and stay healthy over the entirety of 2022.
There aren’t too many other high-end D-line interior reserves who can easily replace Kinlaw, should he miss significant time with injury. Yes, San Francisco inked veteran defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway in free agency before drafting former UCF defensive tackle Kalia Davis. But Ridgeway is more of a rotational player, while Davis is working his way back from an ACL tear suffered last season.
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As such, Kinlaw will not only have expectations of bouncing back from last year’s frustrating campaign but will also be handed a vital role and will need to thrive in it.
From this vantage point, all the pieces are set for Kinlaw to finally justify the 49ers’ previous investment in him.
And if he plays up to par, the Niners can finally have that potent threat on the inside who pairs well with those on the outside, too.