Jerick McKinnon

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has had some brutal luck in recent years. After landing a big contract from San Francisco last offseason, he tore an ACL in the preseason. He never fully recovered from the issue, and will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a separate knee injury. The guaranteed money in his deal is up, which means it might be tough for him to stick. McKinnon is due $6.5MM in 2020, and even though the organization thinks very highly of him as a player and person, “there is no way the 49ers can pay him that money,” writes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Maiocco hypothesizes that the 49ers “will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price,” and that “if he declines, he will not be back.” Shockingly considering he signed a four-year, $30MM deal last offseason, it seems like there’s a good chance McKinnon never plays a snap for San Francisco. They still have a very deep backfield with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr., so it’s obvious why they wouldn’t want to give McKinnon $6.5MM as he enters his age 28 season coming off two lost years.

Here’s more from the NFC West, as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • In the same piece, Maiocco writes about another member of the 49ers who might not be long for the team. C.J. Beathard lost the competition to be the team’s backup quarterback to Nick Mullens, but they’ve kept him on the roster. There was talk that San Francisco would try to trade one of their young backups this offseason, but Maiocco writes that they’ve tried and “there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.” Maiocco speculates that the team might eventually pull the plug and release Beathard outright if injuries pile up and they need the roster spot. Beathard, a 2017 third-round pick from Iowa, has started five games each of the past two seasons and has looked competent at times.
  • The Cardinals are still looking for their first win, and they just got dealt a tough injury blow. Promising second-year receiver Christian Kirk will miss their Week 5 game against the Bengals, and it sounds like he could be out even longer. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t rule out Kirk for the team’s Week 6 game against the Cardinals, but he did say the team wouldn’t rush him back, and that “it’s a long season,” per Darren Urban of the team’s official site (Twitter link). It’s too early to tell for sure, but Kingsbury using that type of language suggests they’re going to be pretty cautious. The 47th overall pick of last year’s draft, Kirk is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Rams dropped their second straight game on Thursday to fall to 3-2, and now a key player is banged up. Receiver Brandin Cooks was placed in the concussion protocol following the team’s loss to Seattle, head coach Sean McVay said Friday. McVay said Cooks was asymptomatic as of yesterday, but it’s still concerning given Cooks’ history with concussions. Thankfully for the Rams he has a few extra days to get cleared since they played a Thursday night game, but this is still a situation worth monitoring. Los Angeles relies on Cooks to stretch defenses vertically, and him missing anytime is the last thing a suddenly struggling Rams team needs.

49ers Notes: McKinnon, Ward, Verrett, Hurd

Jerick McKinnon‘s 49ers tenure may very well end without him ever taking a snap for San Francisco. The team placed the running back on injured reserve last week, ending his 2019 season before it could start. McKinnon tore an ACL just before the start of last season, and has had complications while recovering. McKinnon had another knee surgery earlier this week, but it turns out it was unrelated to his ACL, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. His ACL is apparently fine, which McKinnon said was “reassuring.”

Instead it was a separate issue in the same knee, although it’s not clear exactly what that issue is. He’ll miss his second straight season, but McKinnon still really wants to play for the 49ers. “I love this team,” he said. “That’s why I came here. I love the coaching staff, the whole organization, the Yorks, John (Lynch), Kyle (Shanahan), all the coaches. Coach (Bobby) Turner and everyone has been supportive — behind me, 100 percent, and there’s nothing more you can ask for.” McKinnon wants to be back, but it seems likely the team will want to move on. McKinnon, who signed a four-year $30MM deal last offseason, is scheduled to make $6.5MM in 2020. The 49ers still have a solid backfield with Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and others, so he’d likely have to take a significant pay-cut at the very least to be brought back.

Here’s more from San Francisco:

  • Their defense is going to be banged up in Week 1. Defensive end Dee Ford has been dealing with a nagging injury but is going to play, while fellow pass-rusher Nick Bosa and cornerback Jason Verrett are both questionable. Now they’ll be without starting safety Jimmie Ward, who had surgery after breaking a finger in Wednesday’s practice, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Ward has been ruled out for the team’s opener against Tampa Bay, although Barrows notes that he might be able to play with a cast on in Week 2. Second-year player Tarvarius Moore will start in his place.
  • Speaking of Verrett, the oft-injured corner received a nice chunk of change for making the team’s initial 53-man roster. Verrett got a $500K bonus for being on the active roster Week 1, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Verrett, a first-round pick of the Chargers’ back in 2014, signed a one-year deal with San Francisco earlier this offseason. Verrett has always been extremely talented and made the Pro Bowl back in 2015, but he’s appeared in just five games over the past three seasons. Verrett has already dealt with a torn ACL and Achilles in his young career, and he missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury.
  • Ward isn’t the only player they’ll be without in Week 1. Rookie receiver Jalen Hurd isn’t going to play against the Bucs and he could miss multiple games, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 49ers drafted Hurt 67th overall back in April, and he has the potential to turn into an intriguing weapon. Hurd rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in his college career as a running back and then transitioned to receiver, racking up 946 yards through the air in his senior season at Baylor. It should be interesting too see how Kyle Shanahan uses him, but unfortunately it looks like we might have to wait a few weeks for his debut as he deals with a back injury.

49ers To Place Jerick McKinnon On IR

The 49ers will place Jerick McKinnon on injured reserve, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). At this moment, it’s unclear as to whether McKinnon could conceivably return during the season as an IR-DTR player.

San Francisco will, in fact, be without McKinnon for a second straight season. The 49ers are placing the running back on season-ending IR, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets

McKinnon’s surgically-repaired knee flared up in recent days, setting him back significantly. It’s an unfortunate chain of events for the former Vikings rusher, who was unable to suit up for the Niners last year to break in his lucrative free agent contract.

The 49ers inked McKinnon to a four-year $30MM contract in 2018, 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 offered the ability to go for long-distance runs and serve as a security blanket for Jimmy Garoppolo. Both players were knocked out by injuries in 2018, and McKinnon’s sideline stint will extend into at least part of 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers’ Jerick McKinnon Suffers Setback

You’ve got to feel for Jerick McKinnon. The 49ers running back suffered a setback in practice this week and GM John Lynch says it’s “not encouraging,” (Twitter link via Brian Murphy of KNBR). Details are sparse at the moment, but it sounds like McKinnon’s status is very much in doubt for 2019. 

The 49ers inked McKinnon to a four-year $30MM contract in 2018, 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 offered the ability to go for long-distance runs and serve as a security blanket for Jimmy Garoppolo. Both players were knocked out by injuries in 2018, and it sounds like McKinnon’s sideline stint will extend into at least part of 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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