San Francisco 49ers: Jerick McKinnon placed on IR — what happens now?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Jerick McKinnon /

The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly expected to place running back Jerick McKinnon on the injured reserve. What does this mean for McKinnon and the team?

Running back Jerick McKinnon has run into his fair share of misfortune since joining the San Francisco 49ers in the 2018 offseason. Unfortunately, that misfortune doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.

After spending four seasons playing with the Minnesota Vikings, McKinnon was handed a hefty four-year, $30 million contract by the 49ers prior to the start of the 2018 season. McKinnon was expected to be the team’s top tailback in a revamped 49ers offensive unit.

But sadly, the former Georgia Southern standout suffered a torn ACL in a team workout just prior to the beginning of the season. That ACL injury would keep him out for his entire first season under contract and it appears to still be affecting him at the time of writing.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the 49ers are expected to place McKinnon on the injured reserve after suffering a setback in his recovery.

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It’s been a rough road to recovery for the former Minnesota running back as McKinnon was held out of training camp and the preseason as he was still not 100% following his surgery nearly a year ago.

The 49ers were hopeful that McKinnon would be good to go for Week 1 but a recent setback seems to have derailed his progress.

So what does this mean for the state of the 49ers running back core? Fortunately, the team’s deep running back room should allow them to replace his contributions for the time being.

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In McKinnon’s place, Matt Breida was a breakout star last season accumulating over 1,000 total scrimmage yards while averaging a phenomenal 5.3 yards per carry.

San Francisco also signed former Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $10 million contract in the offseason. The duo of Coleman and Breida were expected to handle the majority of the running back snaps this season, even before McKinnon’s setback.

And now with McKinnon potentially out long-term, it appears that they should be in-line for even more work.

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With McKinnon’s roster spot now vacant, that should open the door for special teams ace Raheem Mostert to make the team. Mostert impressed when given the opportunity last season and is a key cog in the 49ers’ special teams unit.

Perhaps the 49ers could even retain 2018 undrafted free agent Jeff Wilson who was a top standout of this year’s preseason. However, with the team carrying fullback Kyle Juszczyk, that might not leave room for four tailbacks.

But it at least gives Wilson more of a chance than he had before.

And since he was placed on the season-ending injured reserve, there is no chance that the team could opt to return him midseason. At the moment, it remains to be seen whether McKinnon will ever be able to play a snap in a 49ers uniform.

And given the way that his career trajectory has tragically gone, he may never get to play with the team at all.

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It’s been a sad turn of events for McKinnon ever since he joined the 49ers back in 2018. Here’s to hoping that the 27-year-old could get healthy and return to the gridiron before long.