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Taking a look at Jerick McKinnon’s biggest plays of 2017

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We break down some film of McKinnon’s biggest plays from 2017, and surprise, surprise: the new 49ers’ running back excelled in the passing game.

Kyle Shanahan loves his “offensive weapons” and while calling him that probably sells Jerick McKinnon short as a running back, it’s not strictly untrue. Despite his power and burst, McKinnon has definitely had his issues in the running game, but has excelled as a receiver since joining the NFL.

With the San Francisco 49ers, McKinnon will probably be looking at a whole lot of targets. He became a favorite option of now-former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum a year ago, and when I set out to do some film review, it wasn’t surprising to find out that nearly all of his big plays came in the passing game.

Today, we’re going to take a quick look at his biggest plays from the 2017 season, most of which are, of course, passing plays. We’ll take a look at some of his worst plays in a later post, rest assured. Let’s get to it.

2nd and 5 from MIN 42: McKinnon right end for 58 yards, TOUCHDOWN

This is an obscenely well-blocked play by the Vikings, bt McKinnon also turns so smoothly through the seam and then makes his one cut to completely shake multiple defensive backs. Maybe he would have been caught from behind if the other defender doesn’t stumble for a good 15 yards before falling down, maybe not. Either way, a well-designed play where McKinnon executed perfectly.

3rd and 2 from MIN 25: Case Keenum pass short right to McKinnon for 31 yards

It’s a 3rd-and-2, and the play action isn’t even utilized. The Bengals are way out of place as McKinnon realizes he has the entire right side of the field to himself, and he makes them pay. He is immediately slanting out to the right and Keenum is quick to get the ball in his hands.

3rd and 2 from MIN 31: Keenum pass short right to McKinnon for 41 yards

Another 3rd-and-2, another shotgun play, and another quick pass to McKinnon, not for a short gain, but for a big one. After catching the pass, McKinnon immediately cuts to his left, knowing that, at the very least, he’ll get those two Bengals players getting in eachother’s way. He takes a solid gain and turns it into a huge one.

2nd and 11 from DET 40: Keenum pass short left to McKinnon for 31 yards

It would have been neat if this play was a touchdown — the ball actually pops out at the end and the Vikings take it into the end zone, but the fumble was overturned and it was merely a 31-yard gain from McKinnon. But more than that, it was a play where McKinnon went out of his way to get open and then made one player miss badly, and followed his blocking so well that another four players who had an angle on him actually wound up ... not.

1st and 10 from GB 27: Keenum pass short right to McKinnon for 27 yards

First down screen pass, something I expect plenty of by the 49ers going forward. McKinnon slips the ankle tackle, and simply follows his blocking naturally to the outside and, eventually, into the end-zone.

1st and 10 from GB 42: McKinnon up the middle for 20 yards

I suppose have to include a rush in this post, right? McKinnon, from the shotgun on first down, took the ball up the middle, made a man miss, made it past a second, and then made sure the three people tackling him at least hurt a little bit while trying to do so.