Veteran edge rusher Dee Ford is picking up on some distinct Nick Bosa vibes from 49ers rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
“(He is) everything you want to see in a rookie,” Ford said of Kinlaw on Thursday during a video call with Bay Area reporters.
“He wants to be a sponge. He wants to soak everything up, and he wants to learn. He reminds me of Bosa when he came in.”
The 49ers have hit the practice field for only walk-through sessions for the first two weeks of training camp. That changes over the weekend when the club has two non-padded practices before putting the pads on Monday for the first time in Santa Clara.
Bosa came to the 49ers as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Kinlaw, a South Carolina defensive tackle, was chosen with the No. 14 overall selection.
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Ford said watching Kinlaw’s quiet, determined approach reminds him of Bosa, who won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Ford said he would expect nothing less from a person general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan bring to the organization.
“When you’re a first-round draft pick, you can come in and you can … be a little entitled,” Ford said. “That’s not him. That’s not his DNA. He fits in well with the guys. When you come here, John and Kyle, they get specific players. Nine times out of 10, if they got them, they brought them here and they know what type of character they have.
"So far, he’s been everything as promised. He’s going to get better.”
Kinlaw and all newcomers to the 49ers have the additional challenge this season of missing out on the offseason program and organized team activities. Ford recognizes it will not be easy for Kinlaw to make the transition from high-level college football to the NFL.
“He’s behind the 8-ball,” Ford said. “Every rookie is because of the virus. You can’t get OTAs. OTAs were crucial for me, especially with learning a new position my rookie year. I can only imagine where his mind is right now.
"But he’s handling it very well. He’s handling it really good.”