What Ryans sees as path to dominant Kinlaw for 49ers this year


SANTA CLARA -- Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans believes that if Javon Kinlaw hones in on his technique, the third-year 49er could become a force on the defensive line. 

Kinlaw has always had size on his side, but now, fully healthy, the defensive lineman is working on his craft -- and Ryans has taken notice. The 49ers have slowly been working Kinlaw back into the mix in team reps during training camp, and he has been steadily improving. 

“He’s done a really nice job these past couple days of going in and playing with low pads, using his hands inside and making plays in the backfield,” Ryans said on Sunday. “He’s doing really good at being focused on the small details of his job, which will allow him to be a very dominant player inside for us.”

The battle between Kinlaw and offensive guard Aaron Banks has been one to watch, as both are wanting to prove they are worthy of a starting position in the coming season. Neither one has dominated the line of scrimmage, but on Sunday, Kinlaw did make it into the backfield for a run-stop that caused a lively celebration from the lineman. 

Ryans noted that Kinlaw’s improved health has made a significant difference in his on-field performance and mental health. The coach knows that lined up next to veteran Arik Armstead, the pair will be a force to be reckoned with. 

“He’s bringing energy to our group,” Ryans said. “He’s physical, he’s looking good out there, in good shape, getting his legs back under him. I’m excited to see him just continue to progress and I’m looking forward to him having a big year for us because it’ll be vital for us to have really dominant players inside.”  

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Both general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have noticed the pep in Kinlaw’s step and how it has helped him improve on the field. Now, it’s just about putting it all together once the clock starts in Week 1. 

Kinlaw’s new attitude isn’t the only noticeable change in 2022. The South Carolina product has a leaner look that shows the hard work he has put in during his rehab from multiple procedures on his knee. 

After only appearing in 18 games over his first two years with the 40ers, Kinlaw appears set for a breakout season and is ready to build on the 1.5 career best sacks that he recorded in his rookie season. 

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