Embattled Javon Kinlaw finally has breaking-out party in 49ers win vs. Giants

Fortunately for him, 2023 is beginning to turn into a good season for 49ers fourth-year defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw.
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (99)
San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (99) / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

While Nick Bosa and Javon Hargrave got some sack love for the 49ers, Javon Kinlaw ended up dominating the Giants on Thursday Night Football in a big way, too.

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw should have plenty of motivation.

For one, the Niners opted not to pick up the former first-round NFL Draft pick's fifth-year option, meaning he'll be testing free-agent waters in 2024 unless San Francisco suddenly turns around and extends him.

And the 49ers essentially signed Kinlaw's replacement and upgrade in former Philadelphia Eagles star defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, which relegated Kinlaw to the role of a rotational backup this season.

On top of that, Kinlaw has dealt with serious injuries the last two seasons that held him out of all but 10 combined regular-season games.

Perhaps 2023 would be different.

Based on Kinlaw's efforts during the Niners' Week 3 Thursday Night Football win over the visiting New York Giants, it's looking as if that will be the case.

Javon Kinlaw adds to impressive 2023 campaign with strong outing vs. Giants

Kinlaw didn't get on the official stat sheet from Thursday night, which means he didn't record one of the two sacks that went San Francisco's way. No, Hargrave and All-Pro edge Nick Bosa got those.

But Kinlaw was nevertheless impressive, notching four quarterback pressures during the game, according to Pro Football Focus, which assigned him a solid 78.1 game grade, too. Only Bosa (six) and Hargrave (five) had more pressures than Kinlaw.

To date, PFF has Kinlaw with 10 pressures, joining Bosa and Hargrave as the only 49ers players to be in double digits within this category. And, as Niners Wire's Kyle Madson pointed out, the combination of a clean slate of health and playing alongside Bosa and Hargrave is making a difference:

"t’s becoming clear why the 49ers were so adamant about getting Kinlaw healthy and on the field. Just being healthy through this preseason has obviously benefitted him, and now he’s starting to play consistently and the production is following.

Surely playing alongside players like Hargrave and Armstead have helped. Kinlaw’s individual talent is shining through though and the breakout year the 49ers have been hoping for appears to have arrived."

Related story: 49ers game grades vs. Giants are deceiving (but we'll take them)

Being in a contract year is probably giving Kinlaw that added sense of urgency, but health is factoring in, too. It's possible to now see what the Niners saw when they used a first-round pick on the former South Carolina standout back in 2020.

And if Kinlaw continues to stay healthy, his part within San Francisco's defensive rotation will remain integral as it was on Thursday night.

Read more from Niner Noise