49ers & John Lynch Expecting Ex-LB to Bolster Defensive Line in 2023

Just because the San Francisco 49ers reloaded on the defensive line doesn’t mean 2022 sixth rounder Kalia Davis is already the odd man out of this loaded group.

In fact, even after the huge $84 million addition of NFC champion Javon Hargrave plus Javon Kinlaw continuing his trek of getting healthy, 49ers general manager John Lynch on Wednesday, March 22 said this to reporters about the former high school linebacker.

“Kalia Davis, you know, our team is counting on him,” Lynch said (h/t Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area).

Lynch & 49ers Saw a Lot of Past S.F. Standout in Selecting the Ex-LB Davis

Davis once got on college boards as a 6-foot-2, 235-pound inside linebacker out of West Florida Tech in Pensacola. He was once the nation’s 66th best ILB prospect for the class of 2017 by 247Sports Composite. He ended his senior year as an all-state ‘backer, and his ability to fill and destroy was a big reason why.

Ultimately, he moved to another inside position: The interior defensive line. And still, his ability to go sideline-to-sideline never left him:

Kalia Davis (6’2” 310) of @UCF_Football knocks his block back & controls his gap while moving laterally down the LOS. Ends up making the tackle.@KaliaDavis20 is one of 324 prospects invited to the 2022 NFL Combine!

Video Credit: @JimNagy_SB #StopTheRun #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/m8QODIFG4b

— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) February 17, 2022

One reason behind the selection of the Central Florida standout was the attempt to replace D.J. Jones at the nose tackle spot of the 49ers’ line.

“Kalia Davis, he’s a guy we see a lot of D.J. Jones in,” Lynch said to reporters shortly after the selection was made nearly a year ago. “He fits exactly who we want to be as a defensive tackle, and we became very fond of him through the process.”

At UCF, he was utilized as a one-gap destroyer in the three-technique defensive tackle spot. His snap quickness gained him the upper hand in his battles in the trenches.

Davis Isn’t Well Known, GM Admits. But Lynch is a Believer

While he delivered 15 career sacks including eight in the 2019 season, there were reasons Davis fell in the draft.

For starters, he hadn’t witnessed a lot of game action in his last two seasons in Orlando. Secondly, he missed out on the rest of his final season with a torn ACL and ended the year with 4.5 sacks and 17 total tackles. And that ailment prevented him from fully participating in 2022 training camp.

Now, the early projection from 49ers insider David Lombardi on Wednesday is Davis being a part of the third wave of interior defenders following the signing of “Gravedigger.” Davis is the No. 3 option in a rotation that involves Kevin Givens and starter Arik Armstead. On the other side is Hargrave at No. 1 followed by Kinlaw and T.Y. McGill.

Lynch himself is aware that Davis is considered a relative unknown to NFL fans including the 49ers Faithful.

“A lot of people don’t even know who he is,” Lynch said of Davis. “We put a sixth-round draft pick because we really liked his traits. He came back late in the year and practiced.”

Still, Lynch has given the sixth rounder his vote of confidence and to bolster this defensive line for 2023.

“We believe he can help us, but he’s got to go show that he can,” Lynch said.

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