49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters Monday the team will keep McKinnon on its roster past April 1, the date his $3.7 million salary for 2019 guarantees. McKinnon missed the entire 2018 season due to a torn ACL.
"Jerick's working incredibly hard," Lynch said. "He's always had a chip on his shoulder because that was his first opportunity to be the guy. I'm sure he'll have a bigger chip on his shoulder. But he's very much a part of our plans. The way he's working is very encouraging. But it's a big thing to come back from, that's for sure. Yeah, Jerick is going to be a part of us."
McKinnon signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers last March. He spent his first four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, emerging as a versatile option due to his ability to catch balls out of the backfield.
San Francisco fortified its running back position again in free agency this year, signing Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $8.5 million contract. Coleman previously worked with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during the latter's time as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator.
“We saw an opportunity with Tevin and we pounced on it, because we knew the player he was,” Lynch said. “And that’s one where Kyle had first-hand experience with him. If we could do it at that price, absolutely, we’d be involved. We worked hard to get it done, and we’re really thrilled.”
The 49ers also have Matt Breida returning, giving them three capable backs who might not be able to handle every-down rigors but can combine into a formidable unit. The 49ers' main obstacle this offseason will be finding a top wideout for Jimmy Garoppolo, who is also returning from a torn ACL. No 49ers receiver topped the 500-yard mark last season.