A dominant pass rush is the key ingredient to a successful defense.
That much was evident when the 49ers became a suffocating force in 2019. Unfortunately, injuries derailed the 49ers from replicating that level of dominance in 2020. This upcoming season the 49ers will need to somewhat attain that suffocating pass rush as they did in 2019, and with Nick Bosa and presumably Dee Ford returning, that should open things up.
But the 49ers will also need Javon Kinlaw to have a monstrous 2021 season to fully put it together.
What made the 2019 pass rush such a force to be reckoned with was that DeForest Buckner was taking up the bulk of the attention. He did that and was still able to dominate. Kinlaw doesn’t need to be that as the attention will go to others, but he does need to take advantage of the lesser matchups and start to come into his own. DeMeco Ryans certainly sees it in him through OTAs so far.
“Kinlaw is looking awesome,” said Ryans. “I think it's really vital for him to have these OTAs. And it's been great that all our guys have showed up and we've been able to practice and Kinlaw was able to really hone in and focus on his techniques, which he missed.”
Kinlaw showed strides of improvement as the season progressed his rookie year, but it was evident his development was hurt from a lack of offseason practices and a preseason. This year, Kinlaw is getting that, so he should be ready to hit the ground sprinting. The 49ers are going to need that. Even his teammates are expecting that.
“I just need him to be that same wild man on the field, and I know he will be,” said Jimmie Ward in regards to Kinlaw eating a squirrel.
A “wild man” indeed is needed for the defensive line to return to 2019 prominence.