Former Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon met with the media and expressed how excited he is to be a part of the San Francisco 49ers. He stated repeatedly how Kyle Shanahan’s offense is the perfect fit for him and his skill set. McKinnon somehow got the title of being a third down back while in Minnesota and is ready to shed that moniker and become much more.
In college at Georgia Southern, where he overlapped with Matt Breida for one season, he played quarterback and then transitioned to running back. He felt it was a natural progression that gave him more knowledge of coverages, pass protection, and adjusting his tempo and rhythm. He decided he would do whatever it took to be able to play in the NFL.
Shanahan didn’t have to sell the running back on coming to the 49ers. The team was already on his list heading into the offseason after watching what they were able to accomplish in the second half of the season. He was a big fan of Shanahan from his time with the Atlanta Falcons and no surprise, he’s a fan of Jimmy Garoppolo as well.
I saw how they turned things around. I said ‘They got something special cooking over there’, so I said ‘If I can get over there and just put my hand in the pile, I know a lot of good things can come from that.’ Jimmy has done a great job since getting here. I think he hasn’t lost a game since he started? That just speaks to him and his preparation, where he came from, and the older guy that was in front of him...Tom Brady. Skies the limit for that guy.
McKinnon, who has worn number 21, will be donning 28 for now. In 2016 he started wearing number 21 to honor his mother who wore it as a point guard at Pelham City High School in Georgia. He originally wore 31 when he started with the Vikings.
I have 28 right now. They told me 21, I couldn’t have that right now. I guess something is going on with that (laughing). I got a lot of respect for Frank Gore. I watched him coming up. He does it all, and he’s still doing it all. To be able to be in the league this long at this position, that definitely says a lot about this work ethic and how he takes care of his body and things like that so I have nothing but respect for Frank Gore. People that I know that’s worked with him have said nothing but great things.
McKinnon stands at 5’9 weighing 205 pounds, but he says he's strong with a big heart and his size will not hinder him becoming a feature or every down back. In the press conference Shanahan complimented his toughness and pass protection, saying you can really tell who a player is when the ball isn’t in their hands. McKinnon is excited to run outside zone, stretching the defense, saying sometimes, “it only takes one move.”
McKinnon speaks of his time with the Vikings with warmth adding that he, “loves those guys dearly,” reveling in the magical moments of the post season. But he added with excitement that he also can’t wait to play them this upcoming season.