Unfortunately, an ACL tear derailed McKinnon before his first season in Santa Clara, California could even begin, and a setback in the 49ers late offseason work forced McKinnon to miss another year.
McKinnon recently met up with Rischad Whitfield, a Houston-based athletic trainer who specializes in footwork.
The video shows McKinnon doing a variety of different drills and routines, showing off his legwork in tight situations as well as through longer route-running seen in the later half of the video.
With the manner in which 49ers RB Raheem Mostert finished last season and with proven RB Tevin Coleman also in the mix, McKinnon isn’t necessarily coming back to a team that will rely on him, which could be a good thing in the context of the past two years.
However, having a 100 percent McKinnon in the rushing stable would give the 49ers three different backs who have proven production, a nice complement to passing weapons tight end George Kittle and WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
How the 49ers Feel About McKinnon
After paying $17 million in guaranteed money to McKinnon during his injury battle, San Francisco could have understandably cut their losses by releasing him and moved on.
Instead, general manager John Lynch and the 49ers restructured McKinnon’s contract, bringing down the RB’s salary cap hit to just 1.4 percent of the 49ers total cap space, an improvement compared to the 2.5 percent he hit in his first two seasons with San Francisco.
Lynch recently talked to NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco about where the 49ers stand on McKinnon’s recovery.
“I think there’s always that critical last juncture of a rehab where you go from running straight ahead and even trying to simulate some of the cutting that goes on at that position, specifically,” Lynch said. “Then, you go play football and it becomes much more reactive. And that’s where he struggled. He’s continued to put in work. There are some positive signs that we’re on a better track.”
Lynch’s “reactive” comment is especially interesting in the context of McKinnon’s recent workout video.
While McKinnon looks sharp and agile, preparation can only do so much compared to real-time competition, which is how McKinnon suffered his setback after surgery last season. The video is certainly a positive sign, but Lynch’s cautious optimism makes total sense after the unfortunate way in which McKinnon missed the 2019 season.
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Compared to Coleman and Mostert
Much of the 49ers community understandably wants Mostert to be the lead back after the departure of Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins, and that makes sense, especially considering Mostert has the best yards per carry average of San Francisco’s current trio with 6 yards per attempt.
Coleman and McKinnon sit at 4.3 and 4.0 respectively, but are more established pass catchers and role players in NFL offenses. Coleman averages 10.5 yards per catch which leads the 49ers RBs, but trails McKinnon in career catches and catch percentage.
If he’s ready, McKinnon will contribute in the 2020 season, but the size of his impact is what is yet to be determined. However, with the video above showing off his vertical and horizontal quickness, there may be reason to think that San Francisco will see something close to what they saw in Minnesota.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.