San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was on KNBR discussing some of the teams’ recent injuries, and he did not have good news when talking about Jerick McKinnon. One source described it as a “flare-up” in his surgically repaired knee. The 49ers are gathering more information to decide the next steps, per Tom Pelissero.
This will make for a difficult decision on how to handle McKinnon’s most recent setback. He could go on the short-term injured reserve, where he has the designation to return. That would mean he has to make the initial 53-man roster. By doing that, you run the risk of losing a promising young player like DT Kevin Givens, or perhaps one of the wide receivers you planned on keeping. Alternatively, if McKinnon were to go on the injured reserve before Saturday, he’d have to miss the entire season.
This isn’t the first time McKinnon has suffered a flare-up in the same knee that he had surgically repaired. It happened before training camp, which is what landed him on the PUP list. He had another one when he first returned to practice on August 6. Then the most recent flare-up was during Tuesday’s practice.
I wouldn’t fault McKinnon at all if he decided to retire. That may be a prisoner of the moment, and these guys work so hard to get back from injury, that he’s likely not going to want to go out without a fight.
If you’re wondering if the 49ers will cut McKinnon, that would mean the team would have to eat $5.7 in dead money, per Overthecap. Before the 49ers cut Malcolm Smith on Tuesday, the 49ers had $25.5 million in cap space. That was the sixth-most in the NFL. Even with that amount of space, placing McKinnon on the IR makes the most sense, as frustrating as it may be. If the 49ers were to wait until next year to release McKinnon, they could save $6.8 million, with $2 million of that being dead money.
It’s a harsh reality realizing that McKinnon may never play a regular season snap for the 49ers. Lynch’s quote:
“It’s a real bummer. He keeps getting to the final step. We did it a month ago, and he kinda regressed and yesterday we had a similar situation.”