San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has his quarterback, this offseason he wanted to find his running back. He found his man on Wednesday as San Francisco agreed to a four-year, $30 million contract with running back Jerick McKinnon. Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the deal.
McKinnon, who spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, now finds himself in the face of the workload opportunity he always wanted. After Carlos Hyde left for the Cleveland Browns in free agency, the door immediately opened for McKinnon to become San Francisco's featured running back in a high-powered offense.
While McKinnon isn't a great runner, demonstrated by a sub-4.0 yards per carry in his last two seasons with the Vikings, he is an athletic specimen who makes big plays when the ball is put in his hands. In terms of athletic measurables, McKinnon tested in the 96th percentile for his 40-yard dash (4.41), 90th percentile speed score (110.5), 97th percentile burst score (134.9) and 93rd percentile agility score (10.95), per Player Profiler.
This is the type of athlete coaches drool over and crave to have in their offense. The difference is, they are usually wasted by traditional, uncreative playcallers. When you place a player of this caliber in the hands of one of the game's most brilliant minds, someone who can scheme up plays to make anyone a key contributor, that's when a fantastic athlete can be turned into a difference maker.
McKinnon may not see 210-plus carries this season, but Shanahan's ability to move him around the field and get him out in open space over the middle, in the flats and see him beat a linebacker or safety deep down the field. Shahan always wanted to have a weapon like Tevin Coleman in his new offense with the 49ers, a player he could use in plays similar to the one ESPN's Matt Bowen showed from Shanahan's playbook during his tenure in Atlanta.
There's a reason San Francisco gave McKinnon $7.5 million per season, Shanahan sees a crucial chess piece for his offense and a player who he will use frequently in 2018. From a total touches perspective, Coleman could see 240-plus this season and could certainly reach 1,100-plus total yards with the help of Shanahan's playcalling and the help of Jimmy Garoppolo throwing McKinnon the football. Get excited fantasy owners because McKinnon is going to be an excellent fantasy starter in PPR leagues.