No. 1: Jerick McKinnon
With Jerick McKinnon signed to a four-year contract, worth up to $36.9 million with $14.3 million guaranteed, it’s hard not to see him as the starter come the start of the 2019 NFL season. However, that largely depends on his health during the preseason and his ability to dust off the rust that comes with sitting out an entire year.
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McKinnon tore his ACL partway through preseason training, giving fans and coaching staff a mere glimpse of him on the field. If anything positive is to come from this, it gave him the time to study and learn Kyle Shanahan’s playbook along with the chance for Matt Breida to develop.
He will likely be in stiff competition with Breida for the starting job, with both backs now similar in their play styles and skill set. McKinnon was originally signed due to the fact that Shanahan required an explosive back with the skills to also be a capable receiver. With Breida’s poor catch percentage in his rookie year, McKinnon looked like a great option to fill that void.
McKinnon last played in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. He would have his most productive year rushing for 570 yards from 150 carries and three touchdowns. However, he managed just 3.8 yards per carry, a full 1.5 yards less than Breida this season.
In all likeliness, Shanahan may opt to split the workload between the two in order to limit a recurrence of injuries.
If both McKinnon and Breida can stay healthy, the Niners should have one awesome run game.