The 49ers report to training camp today and they’ll take the practice field on Wednesday. I’m not sure when the team will put the pads on, but football is officially back.
8. Javon Kinlaw
Every team goes into every game with the intent of stopping the run. That is where second-year defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw comes in. That is what he does best.
The 49ers selected Kinlaw in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played as well as the team could have expected as a rookie with 33 tackles in 14 games.
But Kinlaw will not rank higher on this list until he becomes more than just a two-down player. Passing downs are the money downs, and Kinlaw eventually must improve his pass-rush skills to earn a spot on the field for the plays that mean the most.
Kilgore was a fifth-round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent seven years with the 49ers, appearing in 74 games with 39 starts. Miami traded for Kilgore from the 49ers in March 2018, swapping seventh-round picks with San Francisco. He started the first four games of the year in Miami that season, but a torn triceps muscle ended his season early.
Originally joining the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Moseley would work his way into the starting lineup for nine games in 2019 and start 2020 as one of the 49ers top two cornerbacks.
Injuries would force Moseley out of the starting lineup in the middle of the 2020 season, and the play of his replacement would keep him on the sideline for all but 175 snaps during the second half of the year.
“Some like Lance’s chances here much more than I do,” Zierlein explained. “The reason for the disparity might be that I see this playing out in a similar fashion to Patrick Mahomes’ rookie season with the Chiefs, when he started only one game.”
“The 49ers nearly won a Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm of Kyle Shanahan’s offense just 17 months ago,” Zierlein continued, “so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if San Francisco plays the veteran and allows Lance to gain much-needed seasoning from the sideline. However, any talented rookie quarterback under the direction of Shanahan has a shot to win this award.”
San Francisco has two clear top wide receivers in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Beyond that, though, it has less reliable options. Mohamed Sanu is looking to have a bounce-back year, while Richie James, Jalen Hurd and Trent Sherfield are among others aiming to carve out a big role in the 49ers’ offense.
Not only could Fitzgerald put up some decent numbers, but he’d also be a valuable mentor to some of those youngsters. So, if he does decide to return for an 18th season, San Francisco should make a push for his services.
There is a great deal of confidence within the organization in Ryans’ ability to excel as the man in charge of the defense. But, like Saleh early in his tenure, Ryans will not be a finished product until he spends multiple years in his new role.
But if you’re looking for a reason for concern, Ryans’ relative lack of experience is one place to start.
Ryans is likely to establish the same approach for his side of the ball as Shanahan does for the offense. He will solicit thoughts, opinions and suggestions from everyone. Then, he will be tasked with deciding what to install and what to toss aside.
It is a balancing act. And that will be the one area that could be the most difficult for Ryans to navigate.