49ers star edge rusher Nick Bosa said he felt like the defensive line played its best game against the New York Giants in Week 3. For as much of the discussion about how Brock Purdy was against the blitz, you would’ve thought that Daniel Jones faced was the quarterback being blitzed on over 80 percent of his dropbacks.
San Francisco’s defensive line finished the game with a pair of sacks, four quarterback hits, and 17 other pressures against the Giants. They’ll look to do the same against Josh Dobbs and the Arizona Cardinals.
We can expect to see Javon Kinlaw play more and more, as Niners defensive coordinator called him a “change of pace” player who helps create a spark for the defense. When speaking about the possibility of using more 5-man fronts, Wilks singled out Kinlaw for the work he put in this past offseason:
“A lot of confidence in those guys across the board, particularly up front and knowing that Kinlaw has worked his butt off all in the offseason, done a tremendous job. I think it just gives those guys an opportunity up front, to get one-on-ones, which I think is tough for anybody to block our guys up front one-on-one.
It’s not so much a reward because he does his share as far as him rotating in there and collapsing the pocket and doing a great job. But I just think it’s a change of pace for us in just trying to create the matchups that we want to create a spark.”
Kinlaw evolving into a formidable pass rusher gives the 49ers much-needed depth, especially as Bosa used the first three weeks to play himself into shape.
Between Javon Hargrave, Kinlaw, and Arik Armstead, quarterbacks have little to no room to step up in the pocket. That’s why it’s easy to imagine Bosa and Drake Jackson continuing to add to their sack totals as the season goes along. It’s also why Wilks is excited about the future of the defense, as he knows they can be even greater than what they’ve shown:
“Far greater, far greater. I’m not doubting what he said, that is our best game, up until today. We want to continue to take the next step each and every game. So, the potential that this unit has, not just upfront as a D-line, but as a unit, sky’s the limit. We talk about it each and every day.
So, I told you guys back in the spring, I’ve never been around an elite group like this before. And it’s not just so much the talent, it’s about how we work. These guys grind every day, walkthrough, they’re locked in, they’re focused. Everything is about details, that’s the difference at this level. I’ve been doing it for a long time. There’s a lot of talent around the league, but nobody is a stickler to the details as we are here.”
The Cardinals have only allowed three sacks in three games. But they’re starting a rookie offensive tackle, albeit a high-first round pick, and have an undrafted free agent at left guard with a journeyman at center.
Sunday has the makings of another highlight reel type of game for the 49ers defensive line.