The San Francisco 49ers are a trendy pick to reach the playoffs as a wild card team, with many analysts favoring them to finish above the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings.
Unfortunately for Kyle Shanahan’s group, the rebuilt offense received some unexpected and heavily damaging bad news. Running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL on the final play of practice on Saturday, and his season is over. McKinnon was signed to a four-year, $30 million deal this offseason, coming over from the Minnesota Vikings, whom the 49ers play in Minneapolis next Sunday, so Jerick will not play against his former team.
San Francisco intended to make McKinnon the starter, and he would’ve been an interesting player to watch in Shanahan’s offense, given his love for using running backs in the passing game matched McKinnon’s versatility. With McKinnon out, the 49ers will turn to Matt Breida, who himself has just been cleared to return to the field after a shoulder injury in the team’s preseason opener. Breida rushed for 465 yards on 105 carries in his rookie season, as well as 21 catches for 180 yards and 3 total touchdowns.
Behind Breida on the depth chart is the veteran Alfred Morris, who racked up 547 yards on just 115 carries in Dallas last season, but dating back to his days in Washington, is a total non-entity in the passing game. Shanahan should know that, seeing as he coached him from 2012-2013.
With Week 1 literally a week away, the 49ers offense will have to undergo some significant tweaks following the loss of one of its projected key contributors.