The 49ers have signed first-round picks Javon Kinlawand 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:
With DeForest Buckner‘s asking price starting at $20MM per year, the 49ers gave the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s agent permission to seek a trade at the Combine, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Lynch told Joel Segal, Buckner’s agent, that the four-year San Francisco starter had earned a megadeal. But in order for the 49ers to sign off on a trade, a first-round pick had to be involved. Segal found a taker in the Colts before the Combine’s conclusion.
“Not only did he bring back a first-round pick, he brought back the 13th pick,” Lynch said. “And then, it’s like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t think he’d do that.’ By that point, you start looking at how we can keep our team together. And I guess a long story short, it’s not something we wanted to do, but at a certain point, we felt like that was the best decision.”
The 49ers opted to extend Arik Armstead at $17MM per year, instead trading Buckner to the Colts and drafting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw14th overall. Buckner signed a $21MM-AAV deal with Indianapolis. Here is more from San Francisco as well as some news from the AFC West:
Lynch called Ron Rivera before the draft, hoping to finalize a Trent Williams trade before the virtual event began, Breer adds. The Redskins HC informed the 49ers GM “too much interest” was coming Washington’s way for the long-disgruntled tackle to have a trade done before the draft. While the 49ers rated Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs rated “incredibly high,” they preferred Kinlaw in an effort to keep their defensive line as one of the NFL’s deepest position groups. Allowing the Buccaneers to draft Wirfs at No. 13, via one-slot trade-down, preceded the 49ers winning the Williams sweepstakes. Rivera called Lynch Saturday morning to inform that San Francisco’s Friday offer of third- and fifth-round picks was enough to close a deal, according to the 49ers GM.
Will Dissly has suffered season-ending injuries early in each of his two NFL campaigns. The Seahawks are not ready to give up on him, however. Despite Seattle signing Greg Olsen and drafting Colby Parkinson in Round 4, Dissly is a roster lock — as long as he’s healthy — according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Regarding Dissly’s health, he fully expects to be ready for training camp, per Omar Ruiz of NFL.com (video link). A 2018 fourth-rounder who has played in just 10 NFL games, Dissly suffered an Achilles tear in October of last year.
The Raiders are not looking to move Lamarcus Joyner back to safety. They hope to keep the ex-Rams safety as a slot corner, to the point it affected the team’s pursuit of All-Decade defender Chris Harris, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Raiders were in on Harris, but the ex-Broncos slot standout preferred the Chargers to the Raiders.
April 24th, 2020 at 12:18pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Before the Dolphins stuck at No. 5 overall and drafted quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, there were rumblings that Miami wanted to trade up not for a signal-caller, but for an offensive tackle. Had the Dolphins followed through with that plan, they would have been targeting Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Thomas ended up coming off the board to the Giants at No. 4, so Miami would have had to get to the third overall pick in order to have a chance. The Dolphins ended up finding an offensive tackle later in Round 1 with USC’s Austin Jackson:
Here’s more from last night’s action:
The Falcons were heavily linked not only to a potential trade up, but specifically to Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson prior to the draft. Atlanta did want to move up for Henderson, per Rapoport (Twitter link), but they couldn’t find a trade partner for a number of reasons. Both the Dolphins and Chargers wanted quarterbacks, the Panthers refused to trade within the division, the Cardinals were stuck on Isaiah Simmons, and the Jaguars wanted Henderson for themselves.
The Raiders were attempting to trade back from the 12th pick before selecting Alabama wideout Henry Ruggs, according to Vic Tafur of The Atheltic (Twitter link). Speculatively, Las Vegas may have been happy to land any of the top-three pass-catchers and figured it could move down, acquire more picks, and still find a wide receiver. Instead, the Raiders surprisingly went with Ruggs, who was widely viewed as the third-best WR behind CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy.
After trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts in March, the 49ers “quietly” tried to sign several free agent defensive tackles with no success, tweets Rapoport. Instead, San Francisco moved back one pick before adding South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link), Kinlaw was off at least one team’s board due to medical issues. Most clubs, however, deemed him only a “moderate” injury risk.
The Cowboys debated between Lamb and LSU edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson at pick No. 17 before ultimately deciding on Lamb, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Chaisson was a popular target for Dallas in many mock drafts, but when Lamb unexpectedly fell to the middle of Round 1, the Cowboys couldn’t pass. Dallas will now feature a superb three-WR set of Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup.
April 19th, 2020 at 7:26pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
2020 draft prospect Javon Kinlaw has an incredible story. The South Carolina defensive tackle had a rough upbringing, and was homeless for much of his childhood. As he prepares for the next chapter of his journey, Kinlaw gave an interview to Kimberly Jones of NFL.com. He said he doesn’t think about his past all that much, and called himself “hands down, without a doubt,” the best defensive tackle in the draft. He’s competing with Auburn’s Derrick Brown for that title, and is a lock to be a first-round pick. Although providing for his young daughter will be great, Kinlaw said his large rookie contract won’t be the best part. “Money’s going to be there and that’s cool,” he said. “But I love football. I’m just happy I get the chance to do what very few get a chance to do. I get a chance to play the game you grow up seeing. To have it as a job? You can’t ask for more than that.”
Kinlaw didn’t play in the Senior Bowl because of knee tendinitis and then didn’t work out at the combine, but it doesn’t sound like there are serious injury concerns. One team evaluator told Jones that Kinlaw’s recent medical reports came back clean. The former Gamecock said he’s spoken with “about 14 teams” in advance of the draft. Kinlaw could very well go inside the top ten, and he shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called.
Here’s more from around the league as draft week approaches:
For all the talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the draft and potential technical malfunctions that could ensure while conducting it virtually, it could be even more disruptive for the undrafted free agent process. Undrafted free agency normally moves very fast as the draft wraps up, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe spoke to some agents who think it’ll get complicated. One agent said it will be a “complete mess” and that “if they operate the same way this year there’s going to be more deals being reneged because they filled too many spots.” There are apparently concerns of communication issues in the frenzy that usually takes place, and as an example Volin writes that a “safeties coach could call a player and tell him to expect an offer, not realizing that [his team doesn’t] have the roster space.” Some around the league are calling for a gap to make things smoother. “Make it a separate day. Doing it on the third day of the draft this year is going to be miserable,” one agent argued. “I don’t see why everybody wouldn’t be on board with that.” Volin notes that he reached out to a league spokesman to see if they’d consider pushing it back, but got no response.
When the Lions gave Halapoulivaati Vaitai a big five-year, $50MM deal, most assumed he would take over for Ricky Wagner at right tackle, but that’s apparently not necessarily the case. Detroit GM Bob Quinn recently indicated the team might opt to play him at right guard, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). “We feel like we can plug him in either spot. … We’ll kind of see where the roster shapes up,” Quinn said. Birkett notes in a follow-up tweet that they certainly paid him like a right tackle, but may opt to kick him inside if there’s a tackle they really want early in this draft. They have Taylor Decker at left tackle. Vaitai was highly regarded in Philadelphia, but was buried behind the Eagles’ surplus of tackles, so he only started four games over the past two years.
While Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah is widely viewed as the top defensive back in the 2020 draft class, at least one general manager thinks a portion of NFL decision-makers may have a different view. “I bet 40% of the teams in the league have C.J. Henderson higher on their boards than Okudah,” the anonymous GM told Peter King of NBC Sports. “Better cover guy.” Henderson, a Florida product with 30 total games and a 2019 All-SEC nod under his belt, is pegged as a first-round pick, but it would certainly be a surprise if he came off the board before Okudah, who is thought to be a potential top-five selection.
Let’s take a look at a few more draft tidbits from King’s latest column:
The Chargers‘ quarterback situation continues to a conundrum. While a source close to Los Angeles GM Tom Telesco tells King Telesco is high on Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has faith in incumbent Tyrod Taylor. In fact, Lynn might be comfortable starting Taylor even beyond the 2020 season.
While the Chargers may target a quarterback in the first round, don’t expect the Jaguars to go after a passer with the ninth overall pick, per King. Jacksonville intends to give 2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew a legitimate shot at becoming a full-time NFL starter after trading veteran Nick Foles to the Bears earlier this month.
Although the 49ers are already loaded along their defensive line (even after trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts), they could still target even more front four help in the first round. Specifically, San Francisco could be eyeing a defensive tackle such as South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers own both the 13th and 31st picks on Day 1 of the draft, leaving them ample opportunities to address nee areas.
The Cowboys may look to find a replacement for All-Pro center Travis Frederick after he announced his retirement earlier this year, but at least one rival executive tells King that Dallas won’t spend the 17th pick on a pivot. However, that same executive believes the Cowboys are fans of Michigan interior lineman Cesar Ruiz, and could trade down before selecting the ex-Wolverine.
One NFL GM tells King the Patriots “love” Herbert, but may not be infatuated enough to trade up from pick No. 23. Indeed, New England would likely need to sacrifice a 2021 first-round pick in order to move into Herbert range.
After Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in the Super Bowl, many wondered whether the 49ers would explore quarterback options this offseason. Ultimately, they did not bite onTom Brady or any of the other big-name passers. As far as teammate Kyle Juszczyk is concerned, the talk of replacing Jimmy G was overblown.
“I think people like the headlines,” Juszczyk told KNBR’s (h/t NBC Sports). “Jimmy G is a popular character out there, so if you can include his name in anything, I think you’re going to get a few more readers, a few more viewers that are going to check it out..I really, truly don’t understand why Jimmy gets [scrutinized] so hard. I think the guy had a phenomenal season, and I think anyone in our building will tell you that.”
Looking ahead to the draft, the 49ersare looking at offensive tackles who could be available late in the first round or early in the second round, Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes. They currently hold Nos. 13 and 31, but their other leanings suggest that they’ll look to trade back. For example, they’re doing lots of homework on middle-round tight ends, Barrows hears, even though they do not have any picks in Rounds 2-4 at present. They also have versatile defensive linemen and speedy wide receivers on the radar, Barrows hears. Strong safety is also on the to-do list as Jaquiski Tartt enters his walk year, but Barrows writes that it’s not one of the top priorities.
If the 49ers stand pat at No. 13 overall, they could be tempted by South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports writes. Kinlaw is green, but he also offers tremendous potential. In time, he could be the kind of player the Niners need to replace the impact of DeForest Buckner up front.