The 49ers traded away DeForest Buckner, the team’s MVP of last season, in March.

And they didn’t wait too long to bring in his replacement in the draft.

The 49ers no longer have a hole in the middle of their defensive line, as they got one of the top hole-pluggers coming out of the draft: South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.

Kinlaw (6-foot-5, 324 pounds) should be a force in the middle of the 49ers’ defensive line, allowing linebackers Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Kwon Alexander to roam free to make tackles in the running game.

Kinlaw has some pass-rush skills that defensive line coach Kris Kocurek must develop before Kinlaw can become a true three-down player. But he’s got the explosion and power to eventually give the 49ers something similar to what they got from Buckner in his outstanding four seasons with the club.

The 49ers traded Buckner in March to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 13 overall pick. The 49ers traded back one spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. The Bucs selected Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs to protect Tom Brady.

Then, the 49ers eschewed such wide receivers as Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb to select Kinlaw.

Kinlaw draws some comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, who played a major role in wrecking the 49ers’ Super Bowl with two critical batted down passes of Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter. Kinlaw’s wingspan of more than 83 inches is three inches greater than Auburn’s Derrick Brown, who was the first defensive tackle selected in the draft.

 

[RELATED: 49ers earn "home run" grade with Kinlaw selection]

Brown went to the Carolina Panthers at No. 7.

Kinlaw, however, does come with some risks. He missed a lot of the pre-draft process, including workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine due to knee tendinitis.

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