SANTA CLARA — In his fourth NFL season, Javon Kinlaw finally is feeling healthy, happy and productive.
After the 49ers' 30-12 win over the New York Giants in Week 3 on Thursday night at Levi's Stadium, the towering defensive tackle stood at his locker with an ear-to-ear smile while taking questions from the surrounding media members.
With three games under his belt this season, Kinlaw has been on the field for 72 defensive snaps and has made the most of his opportunities. The former first-round pick has racked up 10 total quarterback pressures, batted down a pass and made one run stop.
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“I’m healthy, that plays a big part in it,” Kinlaw said after the game. “It’s awesome just being out there as a whole situation.”
Kinlaw didn’t just credit his health, but the two veteran stars on the interior of the 49ers' defensive line — Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave. Both were key resources for Kinlaw’s development throughout the offseason.
"[Hargrave] is the man,” Kinlaw said. “I can’t say enough about him. It’s a blessing for me to be able to come in after him and get to learn what he’s seeing out there. And also Arik, who was winning at a high rate tonight, that’s what he does.
“Everything that [Armstead] does, from a power standpoint to working the edges, it’s everything that I want to be in the future.”
San Francisco 49ers
Kinlaw shared that the three massive linemen regularly talk about the game and their technique, which has brought the South Carolina product’s play to another level. Hargrave, who has spent just one offseason with the 49ers has been impressed with his younger teammate
“He’s a monster,” Hargrave said of Kinlaw. “I think he’s been coming out strong. He’s been good in practice and good in games and showing the world what he can do. I just got here and all I’ve been seeing is him kill people.”
Even the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year has noticed the improvements made by his younger counterpart. After the game, defensive end Nick Bosa shared how Kinlaw had lobbied for the use of the five-man front seven on Thursday night, which added a different dimension to the defense's strategy.
“He’s just been healthy,” Bosa said. “And really good offseason of training so he’s able to use the tools that he has. I think he’s going to keep ascending.”
The 49ers did not pick up Kinlaw's fifth-year option, but if the lineman continues to improve throughout the 2023 season, his time with San Francisco could continue.