Javon Kinlaw finally had the breakout game we've been waiting for.
It's not that the 49ers' first-round pick wasn't impressive or looked out of place in his first nine career NFL games; he just didn't have the stats to show for it. That's not uncommon for a defensive tackle, but on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, Kinlaw finally broke through.
He displayed impressive awareness in the first half when he diagnosed a screen and broke up a pass intended for Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Then, in the third quarter, he finally got home to the quarterback.
Kinlaw took down Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill for his first career NFL sack. Hill was in the game because starting quarterback Drew Brees was injured in the first half.
When Kinlaw got back to the sideline, he had to take it all in. Including the smell, apparently.
Kinlaw was just getting started, too. In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, he combined with Jordan Willis to sack Saints quarterback Jameis Winston.
The 49ers made the difficult decision to trade DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason, but in exchange, they received the first-round pick that ultimately turned into Kinlaw. Based on how he has performed in his rookie season, and particularly on Sunday against the Saints, that increasingly looks like it was a wise choice.