The San Francisco 49ers made some significant changes this NFL offseason. Among the most notable was the departure of running back Carlos Hyde.
Fortunately, San Francisco feels they found a viable replacement in running back Jerrick McKinnon. According to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports, he could be poised for a big year under head coach Mike Shanahan.
Instead, the organization targeted a player in free agency who provides the skills coach Kyle Shanahan covets in a running back. Jerick McKinnon was a spot player during his four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. But he will be asked to take on a much-greater role after signing a four-year, $30 million contract with the 49ers as a free agent.
The 49ers have high expectations for McKinnon. Hyde had served as their workhorse back for the last several years and was coming off his best year yet. However, San Francisco did not put up much of an effort to re-sign him. That said, it seems they felt confident that they would find a solid replacement in free agency.
McKinnon had largely served as a complementary back during his first four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He is also coming off the best year of his career after finishing the 2017 campaign with 570 yards and three touchdowns while hauling in 51 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. However, his production can be credited to the season-ending injury to running back Dalvin Cook.
Regardless, McKinnon made it clear that he was ready for a bigger role at this stage in his career. It appears he will finally get his wish this season.