One of the more underrated storylines for the 49ers in 2022 is the return of former first-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw. Kyle Shanahan spoke glowingly about Kinlaw at the league meetings, and Kinlaw himself provided another positive update on his rehab on his Instagram account.
Good to see Javon Kinlaw running again (taken from his Instagram page) pic.twitter.com/zDdk6eP11m— Niners Nation Podcast Network (@NNPodcasts) April 6, 2022
This video supports what Shanahan said at the league meetings last month.
“I see him every day working outside my window. This is the healthiest I’ve seen him since he’s been here. I really think he fixed some of the things that were issues, and I’m as excited for him as anyone.”
He’d better be because the 49ers are going to need Kinlaw at his physical best if they’re going to continue to stop the run like they did last season. According to Pro Football Focus, now-Denver Bronco DJ Jones was fourth in the NFL last season with 47 run stops and first in the league in run-stop win rate, according to Next Gen Stats.
Considering his gargantuan size, it might be the first time in Javon Kinlaw’s life that he could have difficulty filling somebody else’s shoes.
Fortunately, Kinlaw himself recently told Brad Graham he’s feeling better than ever.
“I’m feeling amazing. Really, honest, I’ve had nothing but ups, no downs. Knock on wood. Everything has been progressing the right way. From a health standpoint, I already feel healthier than I was last year when I was on the field, so I’m just excited to really get back out there and just be able to showcase what a healthy Javon Kinlaw can do for this organization.”
All of that is obviously good news, and I realize that it doesn’t mean a ton when guys aren’t wearing pads and crashing into other players at full speed. That said, what we’re looking for at this time of year is progress, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Look at it another way: If there were reports about Kinlaw having a setback, we’d all be freaking out right about now, right? So let’s do the opposite of that now that the injury news is in the team’s favor for a change.