5 backups who have stepped up a ton for the 49ers in 2023

The 49ers control their destiny in the NFC, holding the No. 1 seed with four games left. Part of this has been due to some backup players stepping up when needed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Javon Kinlaw
Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Backup who stepped up No. 2: Javon Kinlaw, Defensive tackle

Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw may never live up to his first-round draft billing, but the No. 14 overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft has displayed some encouraging signs as a backup this season.

Perhaps not coincidentially, this is the first time in his career that he hasn't been fighting off some sort of injury. It's showing however, as the team has had some excellent interior depth with him this season.

Kinlaw has had 2.5 sacks in his last two games, including two sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles in a big matchup. He also has three tackles for loss and five quarterback hits for the season.

While Kinlaw may never be a starter for the 49ers again, he's shown he can be trusted to contribute. He'll have his chance against the Arizona Cardinals, with the 49ers likely to need him to start due to injuries to both starting defensive tackles in Javon Hargrave and Arik Armstead.

Luckily one thing this 49ers defensive line has is depth, and Kinlaw has been a big part of providing that along the defensive interior.