American Football

Kyle Shanahan has “exact same” feelings on Drake Jackson, Javon Kinlaw

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NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The 49ers defensive line could be ridiculous if they can get it together

xThe San Francisco 49ers have one of the unquestionably best defensive lines in the league. That doesn’t mean some pieces don’t have question marks. It’s a big make-it or break it year for Javon Kinlaw who has had a hard time getting it all together, largely to injuries sidelining him.

Then there’s Drake Jackson, the first player the 49ers picked in the 2022 NFL Draft. Coming off his rookie season, Jackson has a lot to show as well. Mostly because he became largely absent at the end of his rookie season.

Both players were subjects of discussion in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s press conference following Day 1 of 49ers training camp on Wednesday and both came from optimism from Shanahan.

Starting with Kinlaw, Shanahan has noted how there have been no setbacks for the 4th year defensive lineman. There hasn’t been a day off or a knee issue holding Kinlaw down this time:

“Yeah, Kinlaw has been unbelievable in that you see how he looks. He’s gone a full year with no setbacks. So, to get through OTAs with that and then our 40-days away continued as it happens he keeps looking better and better. Everyone knows the specimen that he is, so now it’s hopefully than can go through training camp so he can tie that to football. If he can do that and stay healthy with the way he’s worked and the way his talent is and his mindset set, it’s a matter of time for him. “

Obviously, Shanahan wants to get Kinlaw more playing time, especially in training camp since he’s been in and out of practice in prior years. But that’s theoretical and Shanahan is reluctant to do so:

“We don’t go extra, because the more you go extra with someone, the higher chance of him getting hurt, that has been what’s held him back. We’re trying to be as smart with him as possible, but fro the first time in a couple of years he’s been healthy enough to get himself into a position to where he can be treated like everyone else.”

Then there’s Drake Jackson who came up a few minutes later. While not disappointing in his rookie season, Jackson definitely seemed to be “missing” during the 49ers postseason run. Earlier this year, Shanahan said it was due to rookies not knowing how an NFL season worked. As far as the optimism Shanahan had for Kinlaw, it’s the exact same for Jackson

“Exact same. Drake wasn’t as much of the injury stuff that Kinlaw had, but Drake, just as you guys know from the end of last year [his rookie year] had to get into better shape and such to make it through the whole year. He stayed here right when the season ended, that’s why he had great OTAs. Lot of guys put in so much work and then the 40 days away, they are like “Alright, let me go take a break before and come back.” He didn’t. He stayed here the 40 days away, kept doing the same things he was doing since February and he’s continuing to climb.”

Between the two, the 49ers could use depth at the very least. If Jackson can put it together opposite Bosa, there is no place a quarterback can hide. The 49ers saw the lethality of such a line in 2019 in spurts when Dee Ford was healthy. As far as Kinlaw, one could hope he turns it around, but if he can even be a solid depth piece at this point in his career, that could at least be something salvaged.

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