NFC Notes: 49ers, Rams, Seahawks


New 49ers DC Steve Wilks specifically mentioned DT Javon Kinlaw and DE Drake Jackson as players the team is hoping can take a big step forward this season. Kinlaw is a former first-round pick who’s battled knee issues. The team declined his fifth-year option but he remains under contract for 2023 and has a chance to win a role. 

“The day that I came in on my interview, he was here working out,” Wilks said via the Athletic’s Matt Barrows. “He has not missed a day of offseason training, so I’m excited to see exactly where he’s going to be. The same thing with Drake. Drake has been here all spring working out, doing the things that he needs to do to improve his game. He’s gained a lot of weight.”

Jackson looked like a potential impact player during camp but hit the rookie wall and faded as the season progressed. Wilks says Jackson looks bigger, stronger, and much better equipped to emerge in 2023 compared to what he saw reviewing the tape of 2022. 

“I saw a lot of talent, a lot of skill set, but someone that needs to really get a little stronger, get a little bigger,” he said. “And he’s working hard, so I’m looking forward to him once again taking that sophomore leap.”


Former Rams LT Andrew Whitworth believes the team will be improved on the offensive line in 2023. Whitworth added that the team may struggle at first but loves the team’s pick of second-round OL Steve Avila.

They have a group up front, I look for them to be much better. I think they’re gonna be a lot better,” Whitworth said, via Rams Wire. “I love the pick of the kid out of TCU. I think they’ve got some young linemen now that have played and they’ll be more experienced. I really look for them to be a little bit of a surprise. Do I think they’re still going to be limited in some of the talent they have and they’re gonna have some youth? Yes, but the beginning of their schedule’s tough. The beginning of their schedule is a rough start, that is for sure.

Whitworth added that the team’s success will come down to the health of QB Matthew Stafford, DL Aaron Donald, and WR Cooper Kupp.

It’s really gonna come down to, can those three guys – and the veteran guys that are left – stay healthy? Because if they lose one or two of those guys, it’s gonna get bad quickly. That’s really the truth about their team,” he said.


Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba says that his hamstring feels great so far in rookie minicamp, as he missed the remainder of Ohio State’s season due to injury.

“I feel great, feel 100 percent, ready to go, happy to be out here competing,” Smith-Njigba said, via Pro Football Talk. “Yeah, just taking it slow, taking it one step at a time, and getting ready for the next step. They’re just trying to control and make sure everything goes smoothly. They are doing a great job of doing that.”

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