The last time Jerick McKinnon played in a meaningful playoff game was January 1, 2018, where he ran for 40 yards on ten carries and had 11 receptions for 86 yards and caught a touchdown. McKinnon averaged 3.8 yards per carry on the ground that season but had 51 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns.
The 49ers signed the speedy McKinnon to a $30 million contract the following offseason, but a Jet tore his ACL eight days before the regular season started. In 2019, McKinnon suffered a couple of setbacks during his rehab that prevented him from ever suiting up in a preseason game. So here we are, two years later, without McKinnon playing any regular-season snaps. That hasn’t slowed the excitement for McKinnon. Especially as we see him healthy and working out.
Age: 28 (turned 28 on May 3)
Experience: Six accrued seasons
The 49ers agreed to restructure McKinnon’s contract on the first day of free agency. McKinnon’s deal turned out to be a one-year veteran minimum based on his years of service, which came out to $920,000, plus Jerick’s per-game roster bonuses of $250,000. The 49ers will have $2 million in dead money due to the proration in McKinnon’s contract from 2020. McKinnon was originally scheduled to make $6.8 million. Now, his cap number in 2020 will be $2.9 million. Looking at his contract on Over the Cap, the 49ers would have $2 million in dead money and only save $910,000 this year if Jerick was released.
What to expect in 2020
Here is John Lynch on McKinnon May 11:
“We’re pulling for Jerick, and it would be huge for us because we had a clear vision of what he could bring to us. We thought he’d be excellent in terms of [being a receiver out of the backfield], really, a tough guy to match up within space. And our [coaches] are really good about putting our guys in space. So that would be tremendous for us.”
McKinnon is the player Shanahan chose to build his offense around. Since then, the 49ers offense has developed an identity. That doesn’t mean McKinnon won’t be involved; he just won’t be the centerpiece. Once training camp rolls around, all eyes will be on Jerick. Does he still have the same burst that made him a valuable asset out of the backfield? How long does it take for the rust to shake off? We should have a good idea of what McKinnon can do within a week or so of practices.
If McKinnon can return to form, don’t be surprised if he’s in the top-five on the Niners in receptions. Kyle loves taking free yards, so an easy six or seven yards is a no-brainer when you can get McKinnon on a linebacker; that’s if he doesn’t make you miss. McKinnon is coming into a better situation than he’s ever been in his professional career. If there was ever a time for him to shine, it’s now. He’s been working his tail off to get back, and hopefully, 2020 is the year Jerick can show his value.