The San Francisco 49ers have become the walking wounded, especially after the Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The Niners lost Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman to injuries.
With the roster decimated heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, the 49ers’ two first-round picks should get more opportunities to shine. Defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw should get some more reps this week. He played 66% of the defensive snaps against the Jets, which is up from the 48% he got against the Arizona Cardinals. This isn’t surprising considering the injuries to Bosa and Thomas.
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus graded every 2020 first-rounders’ performance in Week 2, and he wasn’t particularly high on the South Carolina product:
2020 overall grade: 64.6
“As impressive as Javon Kinlaw’s debut was, he faced tighter splits between offensive linemen in Week 2 and fared worse. He matched his Week 1 total with two hurries, this time on 25 pass-rushing snaps, but it was the run game where he struggled comparatively.
While he was consistently penetrating and causing disruption last week, he was far more anonymous this week. Several Jets linemen moved him at the point of attack. Overall, this was a step back for Kinlaw after an impressive showing a week ago.”
The lack of a typical offseason and preseason games hurt Kinlaw’s development. He’s still working on refining his game. As NFL analyst Brian Baldinger pointed out, Kinlaw is showing progress despite the lack of practice time over the summer:
Receiver Brandon Aiyuk made his debut in Week 2 after missing the opener with hamstring injury, and was on the field for 72% of the offensive snaps. He had two receptions for 21 yards (both receptions resulted in first downs) and showed glimpses of being the YAC monster the 49ers hope he can be.
PFF gave him a grade of 69.2 in his first NFL game:
“Brandon Aiyuk made his debut this week for the 49ers after working his way back from a hamstring injury suffered in training camp. Jimmy Garoppolo went down injured, and the 49ers were controlling the game against a lackluster Jets side, so receiving opportunities were limited.”
Deebo Samuel caught three passes for 17 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first NFL game last season before exploding for 86 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 2 versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
Aiyuk is similar to Samuel because both of them are capable of big plays once they have the ball in their hands. I’m hoping to see Aiyuk’s production go up against the New York Giants this weekend.
I’m sure head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch didn’t want to thrust their top two picks into expanded roles this early in their careers, but with all of the injuries the team has suffered, it looks like they don’t have much of a choice.