A week ago, we broke down San Francisco 49ers first-round pick Javon Kinlaw against Alabama. General manager John Lynch said that the former South Carolina defensive tackle played his best games against the top competition, the Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs. Let’s take a look at five plays that stood out against Georgia.
Starting with a wow
Kinlaw had a tackle for loss and a stop at the line of scrimmage early in the game, but those weren’t anywhere near as impressive as this play where Kinlaw bull-rushed the right guard back five yards. Seriously.
That’s what it looks like when Kinlaw fires off low. If you’re not used to seeing that type of raw power, you’re not alone. That’s not normal. Kinlaw provides disruption inside. Even if he comes to the 49ers unrefined, the defense can count on Kinlaw blowing up a few plays a game as he did above.
Staying put on double teams
One of the biggest issues the 49ers defensive tackles had when D.J. Jones went down with an injury last year was facing double teams. Whoever was filling in for Jones struggled with two blockers. That led to offensive lineman getting to the second level and blocking the linebackers, which created easy yards for running backs.
Kinlaw consistently attacks double team blocks the correct way. It’s easier said than done, but you’re taught to go after one lineman’s shoulder, that way the second blocker can’t knock you off balance. Watch Kinlaw below:
Most importantly, he finds ways to shed the blocks and finish. For what the 49ers need, Kinlaw is a perfect fit.
Money on the move
Each defensive tackle the Niners were linked to all had something similar: They played in schemes that got them on the move. At South Carolina, they played a lot of different games upfront where Kinlaw would be slanting, stunting, or twisting in a certain direction. On the play below, Kinlaw stays tight enough to the guard’s shoulder, so the offensive tackle doesn’t see him coming. Kinlaw does his job, and forces an interception:
It’s one thing to be involved in plays. It’s another to make plays. Kinlaw makes plays.
Nice and nimble
Since the last play, Kinlaw had a sack where he just ran through a lineman with pure power. Going back to Kinlaw on the move, don’t let his size fool you. Kinlaw is nimble and is far from a “lumbering” lineman. The play below is a quarterback hit where Kinlaw has to change directions twice en route to the QB:
Those cuts may not seem like much, but it shows Kinlaw can still gain ground without losing focus on the end goal or any momentum.
It comes down to pad level
I was actively looking for plays to show where Kinlaw was “bad.” He didn’t give many options. You know a player has dominated when the offense comes out of halftime and is giving Kinlaw extra attention. Kinlaw’s biggest issue will come down to his pad level. He, like any other lineman, gets in trouble when he pops straight up. Kinlaw is lined up over the right guard. Check out this play:
In this situation, Kinlaw can’t spin. Ideally, he recognizes the double and how he lost initially and hit the deck to create a pile. Plays like the one above are where the “raw” label comes from. Coachable, but something to keep an eye on.