49ers' Javon Kinlaw makes Arik Armstead proud with journey back to game

·2 min read

Armstead proud of Kinlaw's journey after years of chronic pain originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Javon Kinlaw might not be on the 49ers' stat sheet from Sunday's 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears, but he did make an impact.

The defensive line registered nine total pressures on Bears quarterback Justin Fields at Soldier Field, and Kinlaw was responsible for two of them.

Finally feeling healthy after years of chronic knee pain, the defensive tackle is set to be a game changer this season.

After not playing in a regular-season game since Oct. 10, 2021, Kinlaw was on the field for 39 of the defense’s 58 snaps on Sunday, or 67 percent. Only Arik Armstead (42) and Nick Bosa (45) were on the field more.

Kinlaw received the highest PFF pass-rush score on the defensive line (89.0), and Armstead felt the difference made by his younger counterpart on the field. The ninth-year defensive lineman has been working with Kinlaw throughout the offseason and has seen vast improvements.

“I’m really proud of J.K.,” Armstead said Monday via conference call. “Me and him have been doing a lot of work this offseason. To see it pay off and take advantage of his opportunities, I’m really proud of him and all the work he has put in.”

Armstead himself dealt with quite a few substantial injuries in his first several NFL seasons, missing 18 games during his 2016 and 2017 campaigns. That being said, the Oregon product certainly understands the mental toll it can take on a player struggling to stay healthy.

“J.K. is obviously a really talented player,” Armstead said. “And just like me early in my career, dealing with injuries and not having that game experience to develop, I think it’s going to be great for him. I think the more he is on the field, the better player he is going to become.”

Armstead noted that finally having a full training camp and offseason for Kinlaw was very valuable. The third-year defensive tackle drew double teams from the Bears much of the time he was in the game at Soldier Field. The defense now needs to be able to take full advantage of Kinlaw’s ability to take on more than one blocker.

RELATED: Report: 49ers sign former Colts RB Marlon Mack to practice squad

Kinlaw did have a scare in the game after rolling his left ankle on a play in the first half of the contest. The sprain did not keep the South Carolina product off the field long. After taping up both ankles, Kinlaw returned to the field to finish the game and is not expected to miss any time.

The 49ers will need Kinlaw on the field the next two weeks while facing two mobile quarterbacks in Seattle Seahawks' Geno Smith and Denver Broncos' Russell Wilson.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast