After finally getting Arik Armstead back from injury after nearly two months away due to the potent combination of plantar fasciitis and an ankle injury ahead of Week 13, the San Francisco 49ers may soon add yet another defensive dynamo to the already elite unit led by DeMeco Ryan in Javon Kinlaw, the Niners’ 2020 first-round pick who was placed on IR with a knee injury back on October 15th.
Initially cleared to play following a Week 5 ACL injury in 2021 that sent him to season-ending IR, Kinlaw was never quite able to get back to his typical form, and after suffering a setback in September, the Southern Carolina product was placed on IR once more and has been out of action since Week 3. Though he isn’t expected to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins, Kyle Shanahan noted during his Friday press conference that Kinlaw’s return could be “close,” as transcribed by 49ers WebZone.
“I do believe it’s getting close,” Shanahan responded.
Asked for a more specific return date, Shanahan declined to give a one but said that, “it could be any week now. Very close to that.”
After being forced to rely on Hassan Ridgeway and Kevin Givens for most of October and November, the 49ers’ defensive line very well could be back to full strength in the not-too-distant future.
Kyle Shanahan Explains Why Arik Armstead Didn’t Land On IR
Elsewhere in his media session, Shanahan was asked about whether or not Elijah Mitchell will be placed on IR and used Armstead’s injury as anecdotal evidence as to why the decision isn’t black or white.
“You’re allowed eight, so that’s the biggest thing,” Shanahan explained. “I think we need to use them by [the start of the playoffs] because the playoffs aren’t four weeks long. … But that’s the stuff that goes all into it. That’s why we didn’t decide to do it with [defensive tackle] Arik [Armstead], even though it was a long time ago. We just weren’t sure how many we’d have at the end of the year.”
“We feel pretty good, [with] six games left, where we’re at. But we’ll make a decision on Elijah, most likely, in the next 24 hours.”
Regardless of whether or not Mitchell lands on IR, it’s nice to know that Armetad will at least be back on the field for the 49ers in Week 13.
Are Ridgeway’s Starting Days With The San Francisco 49ers Done?
With Armstead set to make a return to the field, someone has to leave the starting lineup to free up his once-and-future spot alongside Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam, but who will it be? Will it be Hassan Ridgeway, the veteran free agent who signed with the team earlier this year? Or will it be Kevin Givens, the former UDFA out of Penn State who currently leads all defensive tackles in snaps played at 326?
Though only time will tell, when Armstead missed Week 3, but Kinlaw played, Givens was given the starting spot opposite the former first-round pick, and he again earned the nod in Week 4, when Kinlaw was placed on IR, but Armstead was able to go. Technically, which player starts isn’t all that important, as the 49ers rotate their defensive lineman a good bit, for now, it would appear Givens’ run in the starting line will continue, which is good news, considering he’s heading for free agency in March of 2023 and is likely looking to be paid and played like a full-time starter.