Many 49ers fans were left perplexed by DeForest Buckner’s exit in mid-March, with the 2016 draft pick joining the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the 13th overall pick. His departure leaves a sizeable hole in the 49ers defense, although the impressive Javon Kinlaw has been seemingly hand-picked as the player to replace the outgoing 26-year old.
Buckner was a fan favorite in San Francisco and has been consistently one of the best interior linemen in NFL. He was selected for Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons and has missed just a single match since arriving at the Levi’s Stadium.
With a high snap count and a total of 62 tackles last season, the Hawaii-born star appears to be a shrewd acquisition for the Colts, although swapping the experienced lineman for the former South Carolina defensive tackle appears to be a long-term gamble which may just pay off.
“From what I’ve seen, he’s super talented.”
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) May 21, 2020
Despite weighing 320 pounds, Kinlaw is quick on his feet, and although many aspects of his game are still a little raw, he is viewed as one of the best defensive prospects in the NFL. General manager John Lynch has a knack of unearthing potential gems, and many believe that he may have pulled off another masterstroke in 2020. 49ers outside linebacker Dre Greenlaw believes that the new recruit can follow in the footsteps of Nick Bosa, who was named NFL Defensive Rookie of Year last season. Kyle Shanahan and the aforementioned Lynch have a history of developing players and getting them up to speed, and the Trinidad and Tobago-born defensive tackle looks sure to be in good hands.
Although he lacks the experience and leadership skills of Buckner, Kinlaw will provide some much-needed strength to the defense, and he’ll be aiming to use his power to disorientate the oppositions’ offense. He is likely to need plenty of guidance however, particularly during his first season in California, although he will be playing alongside some experienced campaigners such as Arik Armstead and Travis Benjamin. As team captain, Buckner was a hugely popular figure, and the 49ers must adapt to life without him.
Following last year’s disappointment, the 49ers have been installed as third favorites for Super Bowl LV, and despite a number of key personnel changes during the offseason, they should be able to reach the postseason with relative ease once again. More conservative gamblers may wish to wager on them to win the NFC, and they are bound to be well-fancied to build upon their 2019 heroics. Wagering on NFL is hugely popular around the world, and with 14 betting sites legally operating in New Jersey alone, there is a huge appetite for future betting markets on the division. WSN has found that a staggering $2.9 million was collected through Draftkings’ online sportsbook in the month building up to the 2018 season, and that figure is likely to climb over the next couple of years with online sports betting having recently been legalized in both Colorado and Illinois.
Whilst some players are running out of chances to prove themselves in San Francisco, Javon Kinlaw is on the rise and will be afforded the opportunity to grow over the next couple of seasons. Fans must be patient with the defensive tackle as he acclimatizes to his new surroundings; however, he appears to have plenty of untapped potential, and will surely prove to be a decent long-term replacement for the outgoing Buckner.
The 49ers are constantly evolving, and although the 2016 draftee will be much missed, John Lynch may just have unearthed another potential defensive behemoth.