Just a game removed from recording his first-career sack, Javon Kinlaw continued to shine in the Week 12 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. His performance in the 49ers divisional victory earned him his first-career Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week nomination.
Kinlaw's highlight play came as he hauled in his first-career interception on a pass from Rams quarterback Jared Goff intended for Cooper Kupp. On the Rams first drive of the second half, fellow defensive lineman Kevin Givens got a hit on Goff as the quarterback released the ball, when Kinlaw came down with the pass and returned it 27 yards for his first-career defensive touchdown.
"I was really supposed to be rushing, but something told me to drop and step back," Kinlaw said postgame. "I saw the ball come out like 'yeah, we're going to the crib.'"
His interception returned for a touchdown is the first by a 49ers defensive lineman since defensive tackle Ray McDonald (at Carolina Panthers - Oct. 2010). It was also the first interception returned for a touchdown by a 49ers rookie since cornerback Dontae Johnson in 2014 against the St. Louis Rams.
Following Kinlaw's Week 12 outing, he earned the highest-overall grade of his career (91.6), according to Pro Football Focus, and was the second-highest graded player on the 49ers behind safety Jimmie Ward.
Kinlaw is up against running backs Antonio Gibson (Washington Football Team) and James Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), wide receiver Justin Jefferson (Minnesota Vikings) and safety Jeremy Chinn (Carolina Panthers) as the nominees for the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 12.
Fans can vote for Kinlaw at NFL.com/Voting/Rookies through Friday at 12 p.m. PT. The Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.