The 49ers haven’t exactly gotten a return on their investment when it comes to RB Jerick McKinnon. The club gave the former Viking a four-year, $30MM contract in March 2018, but a torn ACL cost him all of the 2018 season, and a separate knee ailment kept off the field for the entirety of the 2019 campaign, so he may never play a single snap for San Francisco.
However, we heard in December that the Niners are open to bringing the 27-year-old back in 2020, provided that he accepts a pay cut. He is due a $6.5MM salary next year, but the club could save $4.5MM against the cap by releasing him, and given the depth of its RB corps and the need to extend star players, a release would be quite tempting.
McKinnon fully appreciates the reality of his situation and is willing to work with the 49ers if it means he gets to return to the Bay Area next season. “I’m willing to do whatever,” McKinnon said (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). “The organization knows I want to be a part of this team, so when that time comes there will be a talk between both parties.”
McKinnon also said that the Niners have not yet informed him of their plans for him, but that will probably happen soon. Fellow RB Raheem Mostert was a revelation in 2019, racking up 5.6 yards per carry and eight TDs in the regular season, and he was even better in the playoffs. Restricted free agent Matt Breida was pretty effective as well, and the club will likely retain him via a multiyear pact or an RFA tender.
Tevin Coleman was decent in his first year with San Francisco, but the team could part ways with him and save $4.55MM against the cap while absorbing no dead money. Speculatively, if the 49ers feel good enough about McKinnon’s health, they could cut Coleman and return McKinnon — who is easily the best pass catcher of the bunch and who would therefore offer a nice complement to Mostert and Breida — at a reduced rate.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.