If anybody knows what it’s like find success as a running back in a Shanahan scheme, it’s Terrell Davis. Over the span of a seven-year career, Davis turned three great years and one very good year into a Hall of Fame induction.
On Thursday, TD and former NFL running back Michael Robinson offered predictions on how a handful of running backs would perform this season. Davis handled the prediction for San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon, and it was a curious one to say the least. A year ago, McKinnon had a career high 570 yards. He has gotten significant playing opportunities during his career, but he was never able to secure a clear starting role.
Davis predicted that McKinnon would finish the 2018 season with 450 rushing yards. By comparison, McKinnon’s first four seasons in the league featured rushing totals of 538 yards, 271, 539, and 570. So why the low total for a guy that would seemingly be in line to be the 49ers starting running back?
Davis pointed to the fact that McKinnon is primarily a pass-catching back. He said he could very well end up with 900 or 1,000 receiving yards, but he would not get the kind of rushing totals to get to a career high.
It is worth noting that 900 receiving yards with 450 rushing yards would give McKinnon 1,350 yards from scrimmage. That would surpass Carlos Hyde’s total yards from scrimmage last season (1,290). But does anybody actually think McKinnon ends up with so few yards? Maybe we see Matt Breida and others rotating in, but so much that McKinnon ends up with fewer than 500 rushing yards?
Kyle Shanahan has said McKinnon is their starter and the guy they want to feature in the offense. That does not guarantee anything once football gets here, but I just find it hard to see him either seeing so little rushing work, or being that ineffective as the starting running back. I could see McKinnon reaching that 1,350 cumulative yards, if not more, but I think it’s much more balanced, if not more rush heavy.
How do you see it shaking out?