49ers Sign Javon Kinlaw, Brandon Aiyuk

The 49ers have signed first-round picks Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk, the team announced (Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the Kinlaw signing via Twitter prior to the club announcement). Kinlaw and Aiyuk become the fourth and fifth of 32 first-rounders to sign their rookie deals.

Any other year, all (or almost all) rookies would be under contract by now. But thanks to COVID-19, many teams are waiting until their new draftees can report to team facilities before signing them.

Kinlaw was the No. 14 overall selection of this year’s draft. The 49ers traded fellow DL DeForest Buckner to the Colts earlier this offseason in exchange for the No. 13 overall pick, and then they traded down one spot on draft day to allow the Buccaneers to move up and select OL Tristan Wirfs.

The selection of Kinlaw marked the fourth time in the last five years that the 49ers used their top pick on a D-lineman. Kinlaw will be asked to step into the void left by Buckner, the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, and he will line up alongside Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017. The 49ers declined Thomas’ fifth-year option in May, so if Kinlaw impresses this year, the club could allow Thomas to leave via free agency in 2021.

Kinlaw, a South Carolina product, was deemed a moderate injury risk by most clubs, but he has boundless potential. The 6-4, 319-pounder moves with great explosiveness for a man of his size, and his ability to collapse the pocket will serve him well against the pass and the run. His inspiring backstory also makes him a player worth watching.

Like Kinlaw, Aiyuk has a chance to make an immediate impact. The 49ers watched Emmanuel Sanders depart in free agency, and second-year pro Deebo Samuel suffered a broken foot that puts his availability for the first few weeks of the season in doubt. San Francisco’s WR corp was not particularly deep to begin with, so Aiyuk will be instrumental in the team’s early season success.

The Niners’ brass certainly has confidence in Aiyuk. The team moved up from No. 31 to No. 25 to nab the Arizona State product, who caught 65 passes for 1,192 yards and eight scores in his final collegiate season. He offers excellent YAC ability, so looks for HC Kyle Shanahan to scheme ways to get the ball in his hands. His route-running is a bit raw, but he and Samuel should complement each other nicely when the latter is ready to return to the field.

Per the terms of their slots, Kinlaw will take home a four-year, $15.5MM deal, and Aiyuk will receive a four-year, $12.5MM pact. Both contracts, of course, come with a fifth-year option that would be fully-guaranteed if exercised. Here’s the full rundown of the Niners’ class, via PFR’s tracker:

1-14: Javon Kinlaw, DT (South Carolina): Signed
1-25: Brandon Aiyuk, WR (Arizona State): Signed
5-153: Colton McKivitz, T (West Virginia): Signed
6-190: Charlie Woerner, TE (Georgia)
7-217: Jauan Jennings, WR (Tennessee): Signed

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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