Earlier, Andrew went through the numerous changes the 49ers could potentially undergo this offseason.
There figures to be plenty of turnover on the roster. For that reason, we’ve made a case for a few defensive tackles the Niners to pursue during free agency with the assumption.
Arik Armstead has yet to play a full season at defensive tackle. He’s essentially played two half seasons. His running mate, Javon Kinlaw, has been even less fortunate. The third-year pro has amassed ten games in two seasons.
The 49ers must determine whether their first-round investment is worthy of a roster spot in 2023. After so many injuries and surgeries, you can’t help but wonder if Kinlaw’s explosiveness and overall effectiveness is behind him.
Has Kinlaw played his last down for the 49ers? It’s a question worth asking. The 49ers haven’t been shy about moving on from players who have underperformed during the Kyle Shanahan era. Calling Kinlaw a ‘mistake’ feels harsh. San Francisco had a plan, and three years later, it hasn’t worked out.
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows listed Kinlaw as a potential cap casualty this offseason:
Potential cap cut: DT Javon Kinlaw
2023 cap hit: $4.9 million
Cap savings if cut before June 1: $0
Dead money if cut before June 1: $4.9 million
The 49ers don’t have any obvious cap-related cuts. Kinlaw’s persistent knee issues have prevented him from reaching his potential or living up to his first-round draft status. The 49ers certainly could part ways with him at some point to gain the roster spot, but cutting him wouldn’t result in any additional cap space. The only way they recoup some money would be via a trade in which the 49ers pick up some of Kinlaw’s salary. The 49ers’ best bet when it comes to cap savings this offseason would be to convert the base salaries of some high-priced veterans — tackle Trent Williams and running back Christian McCaffrey come to mind — into bonuses. — Matt Barrows
As Barrows stated, there isn’t any incentive to release Kinlaw — you actually lose money since with the $4.9 million in dead money.
The Niners spending a considerable amount on a defensive tackle in free agency would tell us how they feel about Kinlaw. Since there isn’t a financial gain, unless there’s more behind the scenes that we don’t know about, I’d stick with Kinlaw in 2023.