A little over a week ago, Kyle Shanahan said that Javon Kinlaw’s development was “on hold” thanks to lingering knee issues. Earlier this week, he said that Kinlaw is considering season-ending surgery. At least this season, the more we hear about Javon Kinlaw, the worse the situation gets. In today’s Gold Standard Podcast, Marc Delucchi and I discussed the situation and we wondered: what can we expect of his career going forward?
Marc wasn’t quite ready to use the “b” word about Kinlaw, but certainly has some doubts at this point:
“I’m not in that place…Kinlaw has not lived up to his draft status. I don’t think that’s debatable. He has not taken the step that was reasonable to expect him to take in the second year. Especially having a healthy Bosa living up to his expectations. Arik Armstead has been fantastic this year as well, so Kinlaw has had a lot of circumstances in his favor to succeed on the field and he just hasn’t. DJ Jones has been better. DJ Jones is a good player, but you expect Kinlaw to be pushing DJ Jones in his second year after being the 14th overall pick.”
Problems with Kinlaw’s knees are nothing new. He could only get through two practices at the Senior Bowl because of them. Multiple teams flagged both of his knees as a risk of arthritis. He also had a torn labrum in his hip in 2018 and a back injury during his time in college. John Lynch himself had to quell early concerns about Kinlaw’s health shortly after he was drafted by saying his was “comfortable” with the knee tendonitis.
Now, after setbacks following a knee injury against Dallas last season, what are reasonable expectations for Kinlaw moving forward? Can he still be the dominant presence in the middle of the defense that he was drafted to be just a year ago? Players with bad knees usually end up having bad knees their entire careers. As magical and wonderful as Frank Gore’s incredible career was, he is clearly not the norm (and he’s also not 6’5” and 319 pounds).
What do you think? Is it still possible that Kinlaw goes on to play ten more years at a Pro Bowl level, or do we now have to shift our expectations in light of the latest injury concerns? Vote in our poll below and leave us a comment!
To hear the whole conversation as well as how close we are to the start of the Trey Lance era, check out today’s Gold Standard Podcast on Apple, Spotify, and everywhere else.