‘Damaged Goods’ sticking around
First things first, credit Matt Barrows of The Athletic for that term — it was too fitting not to use. But in this case, it makes sense to group together the transactions related to both Jerick McKinnon and Ronald Blair that took place today.
For starters, the 49ers opted not to release McKinnon despite his pending $8.55 million cap hit. Cutting him would have given the team $4 million in dead cap, so they decided that a restructured contract was in the best interest of both sides.
The restructured contract helps the 49ers save $3.64 million in 2020 and a whopping $9.2 million in 2021 as opposed to the dead cap they’d have to take on if he was flat-out released.
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This — combined with a move we’ll talk about in a moment — could signal the end of Tevin Coleman‘s time in San Francisco. With a healthy running back rotation of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson, and McKinnon, there may not be room for Coleman.
However, the 49ers might not need the cap space after all which could mean they retain Coleman. McKinnon isn’t guaranteed a roster spot and it would be foolish to count on his health.
But Coleman isn’t in the clear just yet.
As for Blair, the 49ers’ coaching staff grew to love the 27-year-old last season for his versatility and high-motor. He will likely remain a fixture in the defensive line rotation serving as Arik Armstead’s primary backup.
But much like McKinnon, he too is recovering from a torn ACL — one he suffered back in November. Because of that, he may not be ready by Week 1, but expect him to reassume his role on defense upon his return.