5 San Francisco 49ers who won't be back after heartbreaking Super Bowl loss

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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2. Javon Kinlaw, DT

It was hard not get excited about the potential of defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw when the 49ers drafted him in the first round out of South Carolina back in 2020. He seemed like a surefire playmaker on the interior of the defensive front with how explosive he was in his college career and what many prognosticators diagnosed as raw athleticism and untapped potential.

Fast-forward now to the end of his rookie contract and staring down the barrel of free agency, however, and it's hard to say that Kinlaw has even remotely lived up to that hype.

Injuries marred Kinlaw's second and third seasons in the league, limiting him to just 10 contests over those two seasons, but even then, it's not been particularly impressive. All told, Kinlaw has played 41 regular season games in his still-young NFL career and has registered only 70 total tackles and 5.0 sacks. For what the Niners hoped he'd be, that's just simply not getting the job done.

Because of his draft pedigree and that aforementioned potential, my best bet would be that Kinlaw will still get a nice payday on a one-year prove-it type of contract for the 2024 season. For the 49ers, though, they aren't in a position to propose that sort of deal in order to maintain the core of their roster, especially for a player who just simply hasn't been what they'd hoped he'd be.

At the end of day, Kinlaw was a draft whiff by the 49ers that has now played his last snap with this franchise. Maybe he can recapture some of what people had hoped he'd be coming out of college, but it'll be done somewhere else if that does happen.