The 49ers hit a home run in the 2019 NFL draft when they selected Nick Bosa No. 2 overall out of Ohio State. Early returns on defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, who the 49ers took with the 14th pick in this year’s draft, indicate San Francisco may be on track for another resounding success with their first pick.
“He wants to be a sponge, he wants to soak everything up and he wants to learn,” Ford said via the 49ers website. “He reminds me of Nick Bosa when he came in. He didn’t say too much. When you’re a first-round draft pick you can come in and… be a little entitled. That’s not him. That’s not in his DNA.
“(Javon’s) everything that you want to see in a rookie.”
Kinlaw won’t be exactly like Bosa since he plays a different position, but he has an opportunity to be equally impactful.
Bosa helped turn the 49ers’ pass defense around thanks to a dominant rookie campaign that landed him the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He had the benefit of jumping into a position where the 49ers sorely needed a game-changing player. Kinlaw will step into a role where he’s filling in for All-Pro DeForest Buckner — the player San Francisco traded to acquire the draft pick they used to select him.
It won’t be easy filling Buckner’s shoes right away, but it sounds like Kinlaw has taken all the right steps so far. He’s surrounded by talented players like Bosa, Ford and veteran defensive lineman Arik Armstead to learn and take notes from. Joining a group like that puts Kinlaw in a position to succeed right away the way Bosa did.
It’s hard to imagine a defensive tackle sliding in and winning the DROY award. A lot of a defensive tackle’s job is thankless dirty work that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. Kinlaw appears ready to take on that job though. If he does, he’ll prove Ford’s comparison is a correct one.