Arik Armstead

Armstead claims healthy Kinlaw looks like a ‘new player'

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Arik Armstead has been impressed by what he's seen from Javon Kinlaw during training camp.

Speaking with KNBR's "Papa and Lund" show Friday, the 49ers veteran explained what has caught his eye after watching a healthy Kinlaw in practice.

"I see a guy that is finally feeling good, being able to play without pain is a relief when you can actually use your ability and go out there and stack days, keep playing the game that you love and get better and better," Armstead told Greg Papa and John Lund. "When I dealt with injuries early in my career, your development is just slowed a little bit because you're not getting those reps.

"You're not going through those games, not going through those practices where you can get better and get those reps. So that's very exciting for him -- he looks like a completely new person."

Selected by the 49ers with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Kinlaw played 14 games in his rookie season and then combined to play just 10 in the 2021 and 2022 seasons due to injuries.

Armstead noted that he's "happy" to see Kinlaw playing well in training camp because of how injuries can take a toll on an athlete's mental health and affect how they perform, which Armstead can attest to from his own personal experience.

"You feel isolated when you can't help your teammates win games so I've dealt with all those things and I've been on the other side of those things and I was happy to see, I've been very fortunate to be a teammate of his, trying to help him, share my experience and get him to another place," Armstead continued.

"And he's amazing right now, he's going to help our team win a lot of games this year and I love to see it."

Now that he's fully healthy, Kinlaw looks to increase his production in 2023, which makes sense considering many around the 49ers organization have noticed a "fire" within the 25-year-old.

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is one that has been impressed by Kinlaw's showcase so far.

"I think he's fresh, I think he's healthy," Wilks told reporters Friday, "You see him, a lot of explosion off the line, violent hands, and really he's playing with a lot of confidence right now.

"I love when I see him, when the play is down the field and he turns and runs about 30-45 yards down the field, it's phenomenal just to see a man of that size move the way he does. So I'm happy right now where he is and hopefully, he can continue to progress."

RELATED: Why Lynch predicts increased production for Kinlaw in 2023

With Kinlaw looking like he's overcome his injury troubles, the expectations for him will be high heading into the season.

If he is able to maintain a consistent role for the 49ers, San Francisco's defense once again will be a sight to behold and a menace for opposing teams.

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