49ers GM Lynch compares Kinlaw's rookie year to Sapp


It's hard to quantify a defensive tackle's impact on an NFL game through traditional stats, but all indications from the organization indicate that the 49ers are very pleased with Javon Kinlaw's rookie season in the Bay Area.

Lynch told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami while joining "The TK Show" that Kinlaw's rookie campaign reminded him of an elite former teammate.

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"I'm very bullish on both of them. I think Kinlaw is going to be a dominant force in this league -- now, I should say 'is going to become' because he's not there yet, he's shown flashes," Lynch told Kawakami about Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk's rookie seasons. "I played with Warren Sapp, and I remember Kinlaw's rookie year was about like Warren Sapp's rookie year. They're different players -- Kinlaw is a much bigger man, but I think they both have the ability.

"Warren Sapp, obviously I'm setting a high standard, maybe the best ever to do it, but I think the point I'm trying to illustrate, defensive linemen don't always just come in and dominate right away in terms of numbers and all that."

In 14 games, Kinlaw had 33 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, four pass deflections and an interception which he returned for a touchdown in a Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Lynch also saw an internal fire within Kinlaw and a willingness to put in the work to be great.


"More importantly, showed us the mentality. He wants to be great, he's willing to put in the work to be great and do the things necessary," Lynch told Kawakami.

RELATED: Why Lynch is so 'excited' for Aiyuk's second 49ers season

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spoke highly of Kinlaw's football IQ earlier this season.

“Javon, right now, I'm a little hesitant to trust the instincts part, but he's proving over and over and over again that he's right,” Saleh said. 

Lynch recognizes the elite company he is placing Kinlaw in with regards to Sapp, but 49ers fans should be excited that the No. 14 overall pick has impressed his front office so much in just one season.