SANTA CLARA — In his fourth NFL season, Javon Kinlaw is reaping the rewards of his hard work and credits 49ers teammate Arik Armstead for the assist along the way.
“That’s the professional he is,” Kinlaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I respect him and have looked up to him from Day 1, wanting to be like him in so many different ways. He knows the game so well, how to execute. An all-around great football player. I’ve always said I want to be just like him.”
Finally fully healthy, Kinlaw has been remarkably productive through the first four games. The defensive tackle only has been on the field for 102 defensive snaps (39 percent)— 84 of which have been pass-rush situations. The former first-round pick has racked up 12 total pressures (all hurries), one battled pass and two run stops according to PFF.
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Kinlaw’s 12 pressures rank him third among 49ers teammates behind Nick Bosa (20) and Javon Hargrave (17) and he's tied for 11th in the league among all interior defensive linemen. The South Carolina product’s 84 pass-rush snaps is tied for 48th most among all interior linemen.
Armstead has been happy to take his fellow lineman under his wing after also dealing with injuries early on in his career. In his second and third seasons, Armstead only appeared in 14 combined games.
“I knew all along what he was capable of,” Armstead shared within NBC Sports Bay Area. “He just needed some good fortune to string it all together with good health to show people what he can do. I think that’s what we are seeing now.”
Armstead added that his desire to pay it forward by helping his teammate comes from the same mentorship he received from multiple players before him. The nine-year veteran cited Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Glen Dorsey, Quinton Dial and Mike Purcell as players who were influential in his development.
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Kinlaw is incredibly appreciative of Armstead’s generosity and is excited to keep the ball rolling during his breakout season.
“We’ve been in the same situations so I can bounce anything off of him,” Kinlaw said. “He will always have an answer. When it comes to dealing with what I’ve dealt with. Just a great resource all around.
“The fact that he’s done what he has done for me is out of this world. I really appreciate him for that.”