No. 3: SF 49ers Running Back Jerick McKinnon
One player who still hasn’t made his regular-season debut for the 49ers is running back Jerick McKinnon. He was brought to the 49ers in 2018 because he is the prototypical back head coach Kyle Shanahan values greatly.
He was a speedy back (4.41 40-yard dash time) and was a great pass catcher out of the backfield. He totaled 2,902 yards from scrimmage in his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
McKinnon, however, was held out of the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL. And in 2019 he suffered some setbacks related to his knee that kept him off the field for the entire season as well.
If he stays healthy, “Jet” as he is fondly known, should make a big impact on the 2020 season for the 49ers. With the trade of running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins, there should be a big opportunity for McKinnon in the rotation along with fellow running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert.
Where McKinnon could ultimately prove his value, though, in the 49ers offense is in the passing game. In Shanahan’s offense in 2019, all three of his primary backs rushed for over 500 yards, Mostert led the way with 772 yards on the ground.
Therefore don’t be surprised if a healthy McKinnon rushes for over 700 yards in 2020, being that he has the freshest legs in the stable.
Also as mentioned, he could be a threat in the passing game. In 2017 with Minnesota he had 51 receptions for 421 yards receiving. In a Shanahan-led offense, he could be schemed open with the ability to pick up more yards after the catch. In that way, he could very well have over 500 yards receiving.
Although a 700-yard rushing and 500-yard receiving season would likely not earn him a Pro Bowl selection, those would be career highs for him in both those categories. And it would constitute a big chunk of offense for the 49ers, equating to a breakout season for him in his journey to return from injury.