Buckner had become a cornerstone piece of the 49ers in 2018 and 2019, totaling 19.5 sacks and being a threat that opened up space for edge rushers like Nick Bosa.
However, San Francisco did well to get a first-round pick for Buckner when it became apparent the team could not pay him what he deserved, and made the smart decision to reinvest in the same spot in the 2020 NFL Draft by selecting South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw.
Bosa will get to line up next to Kinlaw in 2020 after doing the same with Buckner, but before that happens, Bosa has made it clear: Kinlaw is one big dude.
“He’s one of the biggest humans I’ve seen in person,” Bosa said. “Which says a lot after being around DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead… Javon is a really good kid, hard-working kid in the meeting room. Doesn’t seem like a rookie out there.”
That’s only good news for 49ers fans.
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Kinlaw’s Fit with the 49ers
General manager John Lynch and the 49ers drafted Kinlaw not only because of his massive 6-5, 319-pound frame, but because he’s consistently disruptive in just about every situation.
Going up against SEC competition while a Gamecock, Kinlaw faced double teams from some of the best talent in college football, but was still able to be a force in both the rushing and passing game.
Making the Associated Press’ All-America First Team in 2019, the defensive tackle totaled 10.5 sacks over his last two years in Columbia, South Carolina and 15 tackles for loss with two forced fumbles to add to his resume.
What’s important to remember about Kinlaw in comparison to Buckner, though, is that he’s not a pass-rushing specialist. He certainly can get after the quarterback, but what is so attractive about the former South Carolina player is his ability to do it all.
Expect Kinlaw to be making plays in the rushing game at the line of scrimmage or behind it, and when edge rushers like Bosa are able to get one-on-one battles, take a peek towards the interior of the defensive line: Kinlaw will be drawing a lot of attention, and the mutual benefit between him and the 49ers’ edge rushers ought to bode well for the team this season.
Bosa’s Additional Comments
The 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year also talked about a variety of other subjects, including the 49ers’ loss in Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Can you blame him?
However, Bosa also added the comment that he doesn’t blame officials for the 49ers’ loss, and that focusing on whether the referees got all the calls right is a futile effort.
This is also encouraging, but not surprising. Bosa has already shown that he is a guy that lets his play do the talking.
The former Ohio State Buckeye also said that he’s in phenomenal shape, and that it’s not the goal to look bigger, the focus is to be best prepared to play football.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.