When the 49ers traded DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts and essentially replaced him by selecting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw with the No. 14 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, plenty of questions and concerns came about.
As Buckner has continued to look like a worthy Pro Bowl pick and possibly an All-Pro with the Colts, Kinlaw still is searching for his first sack in the NFL. The rookie isn't concerned about that, though. Not at all.
"I'm not really worried about sacking the QB," Kinlaw said to reporters Wednesday. "I'm just worried about just getting a win, honestly. All that stuff comes a part of playing D-line, and trying to get the quarterback, and things like that. But the main thing is to win. "And of course, (I'm) still learning how to play good technique. The sacks, they gonna come. They always gonna come, but right now, I'm still in the phase of just trying to play with good technique, play good football."
Kinlaw, 23, has 15 tackles, three passes defensed and one QB hit through his first seven games with the 49ers. But he also has come very close to taking down the quarterback many times. According to Pro Football Focus, he also has 11 quarterback pressures and nine hurries this year.
It was known that Kinlaw's pass-rushing skills would be raw as a rookie. Sack totals along the defensive line are more a product of the whole than anything else, and the 49ers' myriad of injuries certainly has hurt Kinlaw. His sack totals could look a lot different if he was playing on the same D-line as Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas and Dee Ford.
The reality is, Kinlaw has been dealt a tough hand as a rookie. And it's not about to get easier. The 49ers face the elusive Russell Wilson this Sunday, and it's always a huge accomplishment to get the MVP candidate on the ground.
While his stats don't jump off the page, Kinlaw is getting better and the sacks will come. He has a team-first attitude and that always leads to better numbers.