NFL Draft 2020: Javon Kinlaw instantly fills DeForest Buckner void

NFL Draft 2020: Javon Kinlaw instantly fills DeForest Buckner void

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.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

49ers' Arik Armstead ignores critics of speaking up on social issues

Arik Armstead doesn't want to hear it.

The 49ers defensive lineman spoke to Sactown Magazine for its July/August issue, and says that if you're not willing to listen to his dialogue off the field about social issues affecting our country, Armstead doesn't want you tuning in to watch him and his teammates dominate on the field.


“If you don’t want me speaking out against racism and social issues and social injustices, then don’t watch me play on Sundays. Can’t have a piece of me and not all of me.”

Armstead also joined NBC Sports Bay Area's "Race In America" series a few weeks ago, and spoke about the pain he felt seeing video of the death of Minnesota man George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Custody.

"Like, why do I have to continue -- why do we have to continue to see people that look like us get murdered on social media and on the TV?" Armstead told Logan Murdock and Monte Poole on  "Race In America: A Candid Conversation." " ... I'm on Instagram, and I just got to see another Black person get killed unjustly."


[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]

The 26-year-old also discussed a time when he was racially profiled by local police near a friend's house in Elk Grove.

“A cop gets behind us, pulls us over,” Armstead recalls. “‘What y’all doing? Where y’all going?’”

[RELATED: Colin Kaepernick, Nate Boyer helped enact real change with discussion]

The officer then made Armstead and his friends prove that they knew the people whose house they were traveling to, by bringing the cop with them to the front door and having the friend explain that he was acquainted with Armstead.

Armstead has made it clear he won't be staying silent or "sticking to sports." For those who don't want to hear Armstead's voice on these issues, don't expect him to care whether you watch him play on Sundays. 

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

See Joe Staley's motivational IG message for 49ers' Kendrick Bourne

Joe Staley long has been a model of consistency for the 49ers, spending the past 12 seasons protecting a myriad of 49ers quarterbacks as San Francisco's starting left tackle.

Staley's younger teammates held so much respect for him, as you could see from the many who spoke publicly in the wake of Staley's retirement back in April.

It appears even in retirement Staley continues to inspire his former teammates, as 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne shared an Instagram direct message from Staley on Sunday morning.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"Never lose sight of the goal. The ring," Staley wrote to Bourne. "That's all that matters in what we do. I never got it. You. Mr KB!! Go get it!! F-----g GET IT!! Make me proud bro. I love watching your hustle. All love."

Staley was responding to a video Bourne had posted of some of the hardware he's earned over his football career, including one of the game balls from the 49ers' blowout Week 8 win over the Carolina Panthers.

[RELATED: Why 49ers should explore David Njoku trade with Browns after demand]

Bourne and the 49ers came so close to helping Staley capture that elusive championship ring, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 10-point deficit to stun San Francisco at Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers won the offseason in the eyes of some pundits around the league, and appear primed for another deep postseason run. It'll be up to Bourne, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the rest of the 49ers' talented roster to finish the job if they can get back to the Super Bowl.