Scot McCloughan

Why Javon Kinlaw fits 49ers' mentality, according to Scot McCloughan

Why Javon Kinlaw fits 49ers' mentality, according to Scot McCloughan

Fast, tough, aggressive. That's what 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek wants out of his players. 

And former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan believes that's exactly what first-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw will bring to the table

"This guy is exactly that," McCloughan said to The Athletic's Matt Barrows. "He’s got good quickness. He’s got good upfield speed." 

The 49ers selected Kinlaw with the No. 14 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after trading back one spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This came as a bit of a surprise with top receivers Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb still on the board. 

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

But Kinlaw can come in and essentially replace DeForest Buckner after being traded to the Indianapolis Colts. Kinlaw primarily will play defensive tackle, but with his speed at 324 pounds, McCloughan believes the D-lineman can play multiple techniques. 

"He could play three-technique (defensive tackle) no problem. And he played one-technique (nose tackle). He’s got power and he’s got leverage at the point," McCloughan said. "Hell, you could play him at five (technique, defensive end) if you wanted to. He’s got good get off. He’s got everything you want.

"So, yeah, he’s a very cool item. The key is, is he gonna develop enough to be a really good player or is he just going to be a good player?"

[RELATED: Ex-49ers GM McCloughan pinpoints what Kinlaw could fix]

McCloughan gave Kinlaw a very solid first-round grade, however, he believes the newest 49er still needs to work on putting all his technique together after only recording 10 sacks in three years at South Carolina. In the end, that might not matter with all the talent around San Francisco's D-line.

"He has a chance to be really good if he hits it," McCloughan said.

What Javon Kinlaw could work on, according ex-49ers GM Scot McCloughan

What Javon Kinlaw could work on, according ex-49ers GM Scot McCloughan

Javon Kinlaw will be expected to come in and make an impact for the 49ers from Day 1 after being selected with the No. 14 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

This is especially true since San Francisco traded DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason and took Kinlaw with the draft pick they received in exchange. It obviously isn't fair to expect him to be Buckner right away, though. 

While Kinlaw was voted a First-Team All-American as a senior, he only had 10 sacks over his three years at South Carolina. Former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan believes he knows why.

"When you watch the tape, he could have had probably eight sacks as a one-technique. But he just can’t put it all together at once," McCloughan said to The Athletic's Matt Barrows. "He’d be really good at the takeoff, beat the guy, swim him and then all of a sudden he can’t figure out what’s the next step.

"'Do I keep going forward? Or do I slow my feet down in case the quarterback moves?' And I don’t know if he’ll ever have that."

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

Despite having a four-year college career, Kinlaw still is a raw player. He grew up in Trinidad and Tobago with his mother and two siblings before immigrating to Washington, D.C. There he spent a chunk of his childhood homeless. 

Kinlaw attended Goose Creek High School in South Carolina and was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals. He also went to Jones County Junior College before playing at South Carolina. 

McCloughan also pointed out that in reality, it might not matter too much if Kinlaw can't put everything together at once. 

"It doesn’t matter for the position they’re gonna play him at," McCloughan said. "You can be a disrupter. Because being a disrupter means somebody else on your left or on your right or behind you is making a s--tload of plays, because you’re getting that running back to change direction or the quarterback to get out of the pocket."

[RELATED: Ex-49ers GM McCloughan didn't give Aiyuk first-round grade]

Here's the good news for Kinlaw: Nick Bosa will be playing to his left and Arik Armstead will line up to the rookie's right. Those two combined for 19 sacks last season. 

McCloughan gave Kinlaw a solid first-round grade, and it's clear the talent around him only sets him up for success.

Why ex-49ers GM Scot McCloughan didn't give Brandon Aiyuk first-round grade

Why ex-49ers GM Scot McCloughan didn't give Brandon Aiyuk first-round grade

When plays go to the other side of the field, wide receivers sometimes have a tendency to run their route or hit their block with noticeably less intensity than if the play was coming to their side.

According to former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, this precise trait is what kept him from giving 49ers draft pick Brandon Aiyuk a first-round grade.

“You’ve got to do the little things, in my opinion,” McCloughan told The Athletic. “To be the type of prospect that everybody wants him to be for the 49ers. You’ve got to do everything. You’ve got to do the things you don’t want to do, that you don’t like to do because it’s part of the responsibility of playing the position.”

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

Aiyuk’s physicality was called into question by some scouts during his evaluation process, and his run-blocking certainly needs some technical work.

McCloughan did reiterate that Aiyuk is a first-round talent, who simply requires some refinement around the edges.

[RELATED: Why 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk reminds college coach of ex-Bear Earl Bennett]

“He has got the length, the height, the strength,” McCloughan continued. “The jumping ability, the athleticism, everything. It’s all really good when he’s right. It’s really good. He’s a first-round talent. There’s no doubt.”

Luckily for Aiyuk, he has a former Super Bowl champion as his position coach in Wes Welker and an offensive genius in Kyle Shanahan to help the Arizona State product round out his skill set.

With his raw athleticism, Aiyuk has the potential to turn into a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver.