After spending most of the 2021 season managing a nagging right knee issue, Kinlaw underwent surgery with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles earlier this week that will bring his season to an early end.
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday that Kinlaw will soon land on injured reserve with the hope that the 24-year-old will finally be free of the knee problems that have plagued him.
“There’s a lot of things that went into it that they found and things like that,” Shanahan said. “I think the good news is they feel like they solved the problem. Obviously, it hurts he’s not going to be with us this year. … [The doctor] feels that he found the issue and thinks that will be good news for us next year.”
The No. 14 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Kinlaw arrived in the NFL with questions about a bothersome knee that caused him to leave the 2020 Senior Bowl and then had further problems at the end of his rookie season that resulted in him missing the final two games of 2020.
Kinlaw’s 2021 season ends with eight tackles and a quarterback hit in four games. In losing Kinlaw to injured reserve, the 49ers are expected to activate defensive tackle Kevin Givens from that list as he bounces back from a high ankle sprain.
In addition to Kinlaw, the 49ers have plenty of other issues on the defensive line. They could be without defensive ends Dee Ford (concussion) and Samson Ebukam (ankle) against the Chicago Bears on Sunday and will be without defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf), who has been ruled out. Ford is listed as doubtful and Ebukam questionable, which means a likely activation of defensive end Jordan Willis from the reserve/suspended list to provide depth.
But the defensive line isn’t the only place the 49ers will have to make some adjustments for injury this weekend.
Left tackle Trent Williams is listed as questionable as he continues to deal with ankle and elbow issues. Williams participated on a limited basis in Friday’s practice, a step in the right direction after not practicing and sitting out last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
“The fact that he was out there was a good sign,” Shanahan said. “Again, we just do stuff half-speed, so he’s not challenged a ton on it, but he was moving around and able to do it. We’ll get on this flight and see how he reacts tomorrow, and hopefully he continues to get better and it doesn’t get worse.”
In better injury news, the Niners will welcome back rookie quarterback Trey Lance from the left knee sprain that kept him out against the Colts. Lance made it through the week of practice without issue and will serve as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo, though Shanahan indicated there is the potential for Lance to play situationally.
“I thought he got better each day,” Shanahan said. “His first day out there Wednesday, we gave him some limited reps. He felt good on Thursday and we pushed him even harder on Thursday, and him coming in today, just talking to him, he didn’t have any setbacks and so I feel good to go with him.”
Wide receiver Deebo Samuel (calf) is also not listed on the injury report after sitting out Wednesday’s practice.