The 49ers hope to have a prolific offense season, but those hopes may be dashed if Jerick McKinnon’s knee injury sidelines him for a significant amount of time.
When the 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon to a 4-year, $30 million contract this offseason they believed they’d found their franchise running back. Unfortunately, a knee injury may derail the talented running back’s season before it actually begins.
McKinnon suffered the injury during practice and is now scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday. The 49ers are hoping for the best, but knee injuries to running backs are never an encouraging sign. San Francisco fans will face a nervous wait until they learn the extent of McKinnon’s injury.
If McKinnon is going to miss significant time, the 49ers will almost certainly have to make a move to bolster their options at running back. The depth behind him is some of the worst in the league at the position. Putting someone like Matt Breida, Joe Williams or Raheem Mostert into the starting running back position is a great way for San Francisco to make sure they don’t make the playoffs.
The options available on the free agency aren’t that all that inspiring. Adrian Peterson is definitely someone who could get a look, but he’s not an ideal fit in the 49ers system. In a perfect world, they’d acquire a back who can help out Jimmy Garoppolo by catching balls out of the backfield. That’s not Peterson’s forte.
If they elect to go for a veteran, Alfred Morris would be a much better choice. He’s not the powerful runner that Peterson is, but he provides much more versatility at the position. Again, he’s not going to equal McKinnon’s production, but no one the team can sign off the street at this point in the preseason is likely to accomplish that.
The 49ers gambled big on McKinnon this summer and didn’t do a good job providing adequate cover behind him. That could really burn them if his knee injury turns out to be serious.