The South Carolina Gamecocks have become a feeder system for the 49ers.
One year after taking wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the second round of the NFL draft, the 49ers drafted defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Kinlaw's ability, raw potential and story of hard work and perseverance are well known. He made it to the NFL through sheer determination and drive, but words from his college head coach Will Muschamp might have punched his ticket to the Bay Area.
49ers general manager John Lynch didn't have a relationship with Muschamp before last year when he called to ask about Samuel. Muschamp's read on the receiver was so spot-on they went back to the well this yeat to discuss Kinlaw.
“We were incredibly comfortable with Will Muschamp because he gave us such an accurate depiction of Deebo Samuel last year,” Lynch said on FOX Sports' The Herd with Collin Cowherd. “I didn’t know Will. I met him once. But we called on Deebo and he hit all his strengths, but he also hit his, not really weaknesses, but just realities of who the person is. And he depicted Deebo so well, a year later I said, ‘Kyle, we’ve got to pick up the phone and call Will about Kinlaw because he was so darn honest.’
“We made that call. Muschamp goes above and beyond in telling me about Javon, the player, the person. Then tells me, hey, call his junior college coach. He knows him better than anybody.”
There's a lot to like about Kinlaw. He's got NFL size, strength and explosiveness. The sky is the limit for the type of player he can be, and the 49ers are the ideal team to mold the raw defensive lineman into a star at the NFL level.
For the 49ers and Lynch, it was when Kinlaw's best showed up that proved he was their guy.
“What I like to do is watch him against the best competition,” Lynch said. “His two best games this year where against Alabama and Georgia, I thought. And when you can go up and dominate, these are guys who are going to play in the league.”
[RELATED: Deebo told Kinlaw he'd join 49ers]
Kinlaw will help fill the void left by DeForest Buckner, who the 49ers traded to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the first-round pick that netted them Kinlaw. The South Carolina product will slot in on a defensive line with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead.
The 49ers were one of the winners of the 2020 NFL Draft. Not only did they add Kinlaw, but also drafted Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and traded for left tackle Trent Williams to replace the retiring Joe Staley.
The march back to the Super Bowl is on for the 49ers, and Kinlaw will play a big role in getting them to Tampa Bay come February.
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