If Javon Kinlaw had stayed healthy and become what the 49ers thought when they drafted him 14th overall, they likely wouldn’t have pursued Javon Hargrave in free agency this offseason.
If and’s and but’s. . . .
The team’s addition of Hargrave will put Kinlaw in a backup role heading into this season, but 49ers General Manager John Lynch maintains high hopes for Kinlaw.
“I’m really excited for him because he’s going into an offseason healthy,” Lynch said, via Matt Maiocco of NBCSportsBayArea.com. “We’re committed to him and watching him be part of this group. He’s excited about that.”
The 49ers selected Kinlaw 14th overall in 2020 to replace DeForest Buckner, whom the 49ers traded to the Colts. He has played only 24 of a possible 50 games in three seasons with a right knee issue that required ACL reconstruction during the 2021 season.
Kinlaw has only 45 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
“Maybe because of the injuries it hasn’t gone as well as we all might have anticipated, as well as it would have had he been healthy,” Lynch said. “That’s part of this thing. So, now he is healthy. He gets to be a part of how we rotate guys in and out. He’s going to be part of that rotation.”
The 49ers are unlikely to pick up Kinlaw’s fifth-year option, which would put him in line for free agency next March.