Jerick McKinnon

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, 49ers, Fant

Cardinals executive vice president/COO Ron Minegar was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence Saturday night in Chandler, Ariz., according to Shane Dale of ABC15. The Cardinals released a statement, calling the act “inexcusable” and indicated it will bring “serious consequences” (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). This comes a year after Cardinals GM Steve Keim was arrested for DUI. Keim served a five-week suspension for that. Minegar has been with the Cards much longer than Keim, joining the franchise in 2000. He serves mostly in a business-side capacity.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Jerick McKinnon‘s 49ers debut may be further delayed. The team “seems to be drifting toward” the notion that McKinnon might not be ready to play by Week 1, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes (subscription required). McKinnon is out for the preseason’s remainder after receiving a PRP injection in his troublesome knee, which required surgery a year ago. The former Vikings back spent the offseason rehabbing but came off the 49ers’ active/PUP list to practice Tuesday. But after soreness, the sixth-year talent is again shut down. Barrows projects the 49ers will place McKinnon on short-term IR to start the season, with the reserve/PUP list no longer being an option.
  • Veterans Malcolm Smith and Jordan Matthews may not have a place with the 2019 49ers, with Barrows predicting both will fail to make the 53-man roster. Matthews signed a one-year, $2MM deal ($300K guaranteed) with San Francisco earlier this offseason. Smith has disappointed since coming over from the Raiders, missing all of 2017 due to injury and four games last season. The Super Bowl XLVIII MVP registered just 35 tackles in 2018. Although Barrows notes the 30-year-old linebacker was having a good camp prior to tweaking a hamstring, he has rookie UDFA Azeez Al-Shaair making the team over the veteran. Smith agreed to a restructured deal in March, one that shortened his five-year contract to three years. But cutting Smith would tag the 49ers with $4.2MM in dead money.
  • Would-be 49ers swing tackle Shon Coleman suffered a season-ending ankle injury Saturday night and underwent surgery Sunday. The 49ers are searching for a potential replacement for this role, Kyle Shanahan said (via Barrows, on Twitter), naming former 49er Garry Gilliam as a possible solution.
  • The Seahawks have used George Fant as a starter in 17 games over the past three seasons and are expected to keep him around in 2019 as a swing tackle. But a second-degree ankle sprain will shelve Fant for multiple weeks, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes.
  • Charles Clay and Brandon Williams are cleared to return to full Cardinals practices. The veteran tight end and cornerback came off the Cards’ active/PUP list Sunday.

West Rumors: 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos

It’s been a long offseason for the 49ers, who have seen numerous key players deal with injuries throughout the spring and summer. Add more to the list of San Francisco talents set to miss the preseason. Jerick McKinnon and Weston Richburg are both unlikely to play until Week 1. Given $18MM guaranteed, McKinnon is still dealing with knee trouble after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. The sixth-year running back received a platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee and is expected to miss the 49ers’ August slate, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. The team activated him from the PUP list Tuesday, but Kyle Shanahan said his prized 2018 offseason signing experienced significant soreness after going through individual drills the past two days. Richburg, who remains on the active/PUP list after a January knee surgery, is being targeted a Week 1 return. So are Nick Bosa and Jason Verrett. The 49ers hope Dee Ford, who received a PRP injection on his injured knee, can play by the team’s dress-rehearsal preseason game.

Here’s the latest West news from outside of San Francisco:

  • With the Seahawks in desperate need of available pass rushers come Week 1, more blitz opportunities may be on tap. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks (should he be on the field) are in position to be used more as rushers. “If we can play really good D, it’s going to be because of Bobby and K.J. and Mychal and the guys in the linebacker spot. We’re going to utilize them as much as we can to be a factor in all aspects, run and pass [defense],” Pete Carroll said, via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. “Those guys are really good pass defenders, and they love coming off the edge too. We’ll plan on using those guys a lot.” After Frank Clark‘s departure, the Seahawks have Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier injured. Jarran Reed incurred a six-game suspension. Wright has not collected a sack since 2016, when he had four. Wagner had 4.5 that year but recorded 2.5 since.
  • Theo Riddick will earn a $2MM 2019 base salary with the Broncos, and $750K of it is fully guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. Another $250K will be available in per-game roster bonuses. Overall, Riddick signed for $2.5MM with $1MM guaranteed. This makes it a near-certainty Riddick will appear on the Broncos’ 53-man roster in September.
  • The Broncos are already down Todd Davis for multiple weeks; they will be without one of his top backups for longer than that. Joe Jones suffered a triceps injury this week, and a second opinion delivered more clarity on the inside linebacker’s timeline. Jones will be out between six and eight weeks, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets. But he will not need surgery, which could increase his chances of making the Broncos. If Jones hits IR before the Broncos finalize their 53-man unit, the special-teamer will be ineligible to return for them this season.
  • Returning 2018 fifth-round pick Johnny Townsend would seemingly be in line to keep his job as the Raiders‘ punter, but Jon Gruden said rookie UDFA A.J. Cole has put himself in the conversation to unseat the incumbent, per Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter). Cole would be an option to handle Raiders kickoffs as well.

West Rumors: Miller, Celek, 49ers, RBs

Von Miller turned 30 this offseason and will soon start his ninth NFL season, but it doesn’t look like the Broncos will need to consider making plans for a near-future Miller retirement. Denver’s all-time sack leader said (via USA Today’s Lila Bromberg) he wants to play long enough to make a run at Bruce Smith‘s NFL record. That will be quite difficult, with Miller (98 sacks) having averaged 12.25 sacks per season (a figure weighed down by his 2013 suspension-shortened slate) and Smith having recorded 200 during his 19-year career. Miller would need to average 10.2 sacks over the next 10 seasons to get there. However, Miller sits second among active NFLers in sacks — trailing only Terrell Suggs (132). While the odds are against him eclipsing the Smith standard that has stood for 16 years, it is notable the likely Hall of Fame-bound pass rusher plans on playing for several more seasons. Three seasons remain on Miller’s six-year, $114.1MM contract.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to the NFC West:

  • The back surgery 49ers tight end Garrett Celek underwent this month features an approximate two-month recovery timetable, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes, adding that it no longer appears certain the 31-year-old skill-position cog will be able to continue his career. Celek ended last season in concussion protocol, where he remains for procedural purposes, and the extension he signed in 2016 has just one more season remaining on it. The 49ers prepared for this possibility by signing Levine Toilolo, drafting Kaden Smith in the sixth round and adding Wyoming product Tyree Mayfield as a UDFA.
  • Tevin Coleman‘s history with Kyle Shanahan, and the time Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida missed this offsason, makes him the best bet to be San Francisco’s top back, Maiocco writes. McKinnon is expected to return for the start of training camp, but it has been a while since the former Vikings running back — who received $18MM guaranteed in 2018 — has played. The 49ers will likely make one of these players a healthy scratch on game days, with Maiocco adding the presences of Kyle Juszczyk and top special-teamer Raheem Mostert will force Shanahan to deactivate one of his top three backs. This situation bears monitoring during the preseason, as it would seem a trade could benefit the 49ers.
  • Robert Nkemdiche‘s recent arrest may spell the end of his underwhelming Cardinals stay.
  • More clarity emerged on the Todd Gurley front, but the two-time All-Pro Rams running back’s situation figures to remain murky until we near the regular season.

49ers To Keep Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon‘s first season with the 49ers did not go according to plan, but he’ll have an opportunity to show what he can do for the team in 2019. Niners GM John Lynch says the running back will be on the team past April 1 when his salary becomes fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area). Furthermore, Lynch confirmed that McKinnon fits into the team’s plans for the upcoming season. 

The 49ers signed McKinnon to a four-year $30MM contract last March, but a torn ACL wiped out his first would-be season in SF. It was a huge disappointment for the team and player alike – McKinnon flashed serious potential in Minnesota and many expected him to bust out big plays in the 49ers’ offense.

In 2017, his final year with the Vikes, McKinnon enjoyed career highs in receptions (51) and receiving yards (421). With capable hands and the athleticism to break out of early tackles, McKinnon has the ability to go for long-distance runs and serve as a security blanket for Jimmy Garoppolo. Both players are expected to be healthy for the start of the 2019 season, which should result in a much better year for the franchise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Notes: Garoppolo, Brown, Sherman

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be ready for OTAs, as Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports writes.

Everyone says they are ahead of schedule,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And he is. I mean he’s been healing great. He hasn’t had knee trouble before. It was a clean ACL, so it’s been real good for him.”

As a QB, Garoppolo should be able to participate in OTA drills, but the risk factor is higher for teammate Jerick McKinnon. The running back, Shanahan says, is unlikely to be involved in the 7-on-7 scrimmages.

He’s also a quarterback, so when we get to OTAs, it will be 7-on-7s, so we don’t have to worry about people falling at his knees,” Shanahan said. “So Jimmy will be able to practice a lot more than someone like Jet, who we have to be a little safer with, even though they might be at the same spot. We don’t want people to be falling into their legs, and that’s easier to control at quarterback than running back.”

Here’s more from San Francisco:

  • The 49ers haven’t reached out to the Steelers about wide receiver Antonio Brown, but that doesn’t mean they won’t, Shanahan says. “We’re in the market for anything that makes our team better at every single position,” Shanahan said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).
  • 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman says he’s had talks with the team and that both sides would like to continue together in 2019 (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson). Sherman signed a three-year deal with SF in March of 2018, but his ’19 salary is not guaranteed. As it stands, he’s scheduled to carry a $9.8MM cap figure this season.
  • No surprise here, but former first-round pick Arik Armstead will be back with the team in 2019. “We’re not into losing good players, and he has played very well for us,” Shanahan said of the defensive lineman (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports). “I think he can take it to a whole ‘nother level and I hope to see him do that this year. If he does, that will be very good for the Niners and very good for him because he’s got the ability to do it. He’s already done some very good things for us in these two years. Hopefully, this year he can stay healthier. Hopefully, the addition of changing our style a little on the D-line will help him. And I expect him to get better.” One year ago, the Niners picked up the non-binding fifth-year option on Armstead’s contract. In two weeks, he’ll have his $9.046MM salary guaranteed for 2019.

NFC Minor Moves: 9/3/18

There have been plenty of transactions across the league today. While the big names all garnered headlines of their own, there were tons of more under-the-radar signings and cuts as well. Here are all the additional moves from the NFC so far today:

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

49ers RB Jerick McKinnon Tears ACL

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has suffered a torn ACL, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Earlier today it was reported McKinnon suffered a “concerning” leg injury. The injury “did not look good” a source told Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). It now sounds like McKinnon will end up missing the entire season.

If McKinnon does end up missing the year, recent free agent signing Alfred Morris and Matt Breida will fill in. It’s also possible the team could look to add one of the many available veteran backs, like Orleans Darkwa. Kyle Shanahan specifically sought out McKinnon in free agency as a pass-catching back he thought would be great for his offense, and signed him to a massive contract.

McKinnon signed a four-year $30MM contract in March, but hasn’t been able to stay on the field since. He missed the entire preseason with a calf injury, and only returned to conditioning drills earlier this week. Needless to say, this would be a big blow to the 49ers’ new-look offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jerick McKinnon Suffers “Concerning” Leg Injury

Jerick McKinnon only recently returned to practice, and now could be facing another extended absence. The 49ers running back went down with a leg injury in practice today, and it’s reportedly “concerning” according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

The injury “did not look good” a source told Matt Barrows of The Athletic (Twitter link). More details are reportedly coming later when coach Kyle Shanahan has a conference call later today. Until then it’s hard to speculate, but it sounds like McKinnon could miss some serious time.

If McKinnon does end up missing time, recent free agent signing Alfred Morris and Matt Breida will fill in. Shanahan specifically sought out McKinnon in free agency as a pass-catching back he thought would be great for his offense, and signed him to a massive contract.

McKinnon signed a four-year $30MM contract in March, but hasn’t been able to stay on the field since. He missed the entire preseason with a calf injury, and only returned to conditioning drills earlier this week. Any missed time would be a big blow to the 49ers’ new-look offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Avril, Seahawks, Cardinals, 49ers

Cliff Avril indicated earlier this offseason he wanted to resume his career, despite the severe neck injury he suffered in 2017 ending his time with the Seahawks. Three months have passed since reports of Avril interest surfaced, and the 2016 Pro Bowler appears to be moving closer to full retirement.

Avril began dabbling in radio shortly after his Seahawks release, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes he now has an every-day hosting gig. However, the 32-year-old former Lion and Seahawk is mentoring one of the players competing to take his old job. Condotta writes Avril has been mentoring 2016 fifth-rounder Quinton Jefferson while hosting a daytime radio show. It’s uncertain if he’s regained clearance to play again. Should that happen in the near future, Avril may have another chance. But as of now, it looks like Avril’s played his last NFL down.

Here’s the latest out of the NFC West:

  • Josh Rosen looking ready for potential near-future action may not mean Mike Glennon’s roster spot is in jeopardy. The Cardinals’ injuries at quarterback last season serve as a warning of what can happen, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets. Plus, with Sam Bradford serving as the starter, it’s obviously critical to stockpile depth. Glennon, the Bears’ starter to begin last season, signed for two years and $8MM. It would not save the Cards any money to cut him.
  • Jamar Taylor is still the frontrunner to be the Cardinals’ Week 1 starter opposite Patrick Peterson, Jurecki tweets. The Browns traded the once-embattled cornerback to the Cardinals this offseason – the second time Taylor’s been shipped elsewhere by a new regime – and he’s leading a race for a job that’s been one of the NFL’s biggest trouble spots in recent years.
  • John Lynch said (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle) Jerick McKinnon will be out for the remainder of the preseason because of the calf strain he suffered in the 49ers’ first exhibition game. The 49ers don’t have a deep running back depth chart, and No. 2 back Matt Breida is also dealing with an injury. San Francisco signed Alfred Morris recently. He and Joe Williams figure to see more time while the top two ball carriers are on the shelf.
  • Mike Person’s received the bulk of the first-team work at right guard for the 49ers and is a threat to be the Week 1 starter, despite the franchise having used a first-round pick on Joshua Garnett two years ago and having added Jonathan Cooper this offseason, Branch notes. Although the 30-year-old Person would seemingly be a longshot to claim this job, the injury histories of Cooper and Garnett give him a better shot than he’d have under ordinary circumstances. Garnett spent all of last season on IR, and Cooper has struggled with a litany of maladies in his five-year career. Person was a full-time starter at center for the 2015 Falcons.

NFC West Notes: Bucannon, 49ers, Seahawks

Deone Bucannon spent his 2017 offseason rehabbing from an injury, and the Cardinals became concerned the fifth-year linebacker suffered a serious setback at practice Thursday. But a day later, the team is relieved after an MRI revealed Bucannon did not damage any knee ligaments, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Bucannon did suffer a hyperextended knee and bruised a kneecap, per Rapoport, and the Cards aren’t going to rush him back as a result. Ankle injuries limited Bucannon to 12 games last season, and 2018 will be critical for him. He will play this season on a fifth-year option and is due for 2019 free agency. The Cards’ shift to a 4-3 look will result in their 2014 first-round pick lining up at outside linebacker. Initially a safety, Bucannon moved to an inside ‘backer slot and played there full-time over the past two seasons.

The 49ers saw a former first-round pick go down during camp as well. Here’s the latest from the NFC West:

  • Arik Armstead missed much of the past two seasons because of an injury, and the 49ers‘ 2015 first-rounder’s now dealing with another one. A hamstring malady is expected to sideline Armstead for multiple weeks, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Armstead went on IR with a shoulder injury in 2016, and a broken hand ended his 2017 campaign. He also underwent foot surgery this offseason. The 49ers picked up Armstead’s $9MM 2019 option in May. He’s expected to remain a defensive end starter this season.
  • The Seahawks drafted Alex McGough in the seventh round, but ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson notes he hasn’t provided Austin Davis with much competition. It appears certain Davis will reprise his role as Russell Wilson‘s top backup this season. “Austin has been really solid,” Pete Carroll said. “I think it’s been really hard for Alex to get going. He’s been struggling. It’s been hard for him. We are a very high-tech offense, there’s a lot going on and he hasn’t been able to get back to even where he was in the offseason.”
  • Kyle Shanahan admitted he’s had doubts he made the right decision to convince John Lynch to trade up to select Joe Williams in the 2017 fourth round, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes. A Utah product who stepped away from football in college due to off-field issues, Williams did not impress the 49ers’ staff during 2017 training camp and has yet to play in a game. While Shanahan’s seen a stronger commitment from the second-year back this summer, Williams isn’t a roster lock. He’s competing with Raheem Mostert for the 49ers’ third-string running back job, behind Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida, Branch adds.
  • Before the 49ers made an offer to McKinnon, Kyle Juszczyk helped recruit him. The NFL’s highest-paid fullback began texting with the former Vikings backup running back during the winter, and once informed the 49ers were going after him, the team told Juszczyk to keep pushing with his recruitment, Juszczyk said (via Maiocco). McKinnon surprised many by fetching a four-year, $30MM contract, including his new fullback. “I don’t know if I knew he was going to be the top-paid running back in the market that year,” Juszczyk said. “But I figured he’d be a guy that we’d be interested in.”