The San Francisco 49ers have a new running back in town, and his skill set is just what the doctor (i.e. Kyle Shanahan) ordered. Jerick “Jet” McKinnon comes to Santa Clara by way of the Minnesota Vikings, where he showcased his versatility not only as a runner, but also as receiver.
During his career with the Vikings, McKinnon rushed for 1,918 yards on 474 carries and he scored seven rushing touchdowns. These numbers are not huge, but he also had 984 yards on 142 receptions and five touchdowns. And just like that Shanahan has the kind of player that he can use as a weapon in a variety of ways, much like he did with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in Atlanta.
Experience: 4 accrued seasons
Weight: 205 lbs.
McKinnon signed a four year, $30 million contract with $11.7 million guaranteed at signing. He also received a $2 million signing bonus and $5.5 million roster bonus. He counts at $6,000,000 against the cap in 2018. Technically, if they cut him this year, they would carry $6.2 million in dead money, and lose $200,000 in cap space. Safe to say he’s not going anywhere.
How He Might Improve
In 2017, McKinnon carried the ball 150 times for 570 yards and three touchdowns, while he had 51 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers have already seen McKinnon’s versatility during the offseason program and it is clear that he will not only be the #1 running back, but he will also be used frequently as a receiver and his quarterback is pretty excited about it.
“Jerick, he’s a talent man,” said Garoppolo during OTAs. “He does some things...that you don’t even know how he does them. That’s the best way to describe it. He’s like a jitterbug back there, but he’s savvy and smart at the same time...”
Shanahan echoed those sentiment at the beginning of minicamp, saying, “...[H]e’s been what we’ve hoped.”
With what we say in minicamp, it would not be at all surprising if McKinnon far exceeds his receptions and becomes a viable and effective third down option.
How He Might Regress
McKinnon will be the 49ers’ No. 1 running back, and it will be interesting to see if he can improve his numbers on the ground. He’s not a huge guy, so he lacks the power sometimes to needed to break away and make the big play. But as Garoppolo said, he is a “jitterbug” and he’s smart, which will serve him well at the line.
Odds of Making the Roster