Report: 49ers unlikely to pick up Kinlaw's fifth-year option


Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw didn't live up to the billing as the breakout player on the 49ers' defense in 2022.

After another injury-riddled campaign paired with mixed results on the field when healthy, Kinlaw's long-term future in San Francisco reportedly is in jeopardy.

The Athletic's Matt Barrows and David Lombardi wrote last week the 49ers are "unlikely" to pick up the fifth-year option on Kinlaw's rookie contract.

That would mean next season -- Kinlaw's fourth in the league since being selected No. 14 overall by the 49ers in the 2020 NFL Draft -- would be the last on his rookie contract. Kinlaw would be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

NFL teams have until the May 1 deadline to decide whether or not to exercise fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2020 draft class.

Kinlaw showed flashes of his first-round potential across 14 games as a rookie, but he missed all but four games in 2021 after undergoing season-ending knee surgery in October.

Those knee issues lingered into his third campaign. Kinlaw was sidelined for 11 contests from October to December this past season before making his return in Week 16 against the Washington Commanders. He logged nine tackles, one tackle for loss and no sacks or quarterback hits over the final three regular-season games and three playoff tilts.

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The 49ers declining Kinlaw's fifth-year option wouldn't guarantee the defensive tackle won't be in the Bay Area past the 2023 NFL season. For example, the New York Giants declined quarterback Daniel Jones' fifth-year option last spring, only to watch him have a breakout year. Now, the Giants are expected to sign Jones to a long-term contract this offseason.

Kinlaw still has much to prove entering his fourth NFL season in 2023.

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