49ers

49ers fearful Jerick McKinnon sustained season-ending knee injury

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AP

49ers fearful Jerick McKinnon sustained season-ending knee injury

SANTA CLARA – Running back Jerick McKinnon went down with a knee injury on Saturday that has the 49ers concerned he could have sustained a season-ending ACL injury.

“We hope that we’re wrong,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Saturday afternoon on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

McKinnon returned to 11-on-11 drills Saturday for the first time since sustaining a calf injury three weeks ago. On the final play of practice, he went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

“He just made a cut on air and no one was around him and just went down,” Shanahan said. “It looked awkward. We’re concerned about it, but we don’t have an MRI done, so we don’t know for sure.”

McKinnon was scheduled for an MRI on Saturday afternoon. The injury occurred before the 1 p.m. deadline to submit cuts for the 53-man roster. The 49ers kept McKinnon on their initial 53-man roster.

“We’re concerned, but we’re also confident,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We have a lot of good football players here. We’re proud of our 53-man roster. Next week we’re going to be really excited, looking to take on the Vikings.”

The 49ers open the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 9, against the Minnesota Vikings, McKinnon’s former team. The 49ers signed McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million contract on the first day of free agency. He was expected to be one of the central figures of the team’s offense, as a runner and receiver.

The 49ers kept three other running backs, along with fullback Kyle Juszczyk on their roster. Veteran Alfred Morris, who was signed two weeks ago, could be the starter when the 49ers open the season. Matt Breida is likely to be the backup, with special-teams ace Raheem Mostert available in emergency situations.

Kyle Shanahan is 'doppelganger' of Bill Belichick, Colin Cowherd says

Kyle Shanahan is 'doppelganger' of Bill Belichick, Colin Cowherd says

There are a litany of great head coaches in the NFL today, but few are both as universally beloved by colleagues and as overlooked by fans and media members as 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. The former Falcons offensive coordinator has fought an uphill battle since taking over prior to the 2017 season -- and has a 10-22 record to show for it. 

Colin Cowherd was recently discussing the NFL.com head coach rankings that were released yesterday, and he strongly disagreed with one particular selection.

"Shanahan, has a doppelganger in this league, it's called Belichick," Cowherd said. Bill Belichick is easily the most well-renowned head coach in the NFL and just came off of his sixth Super Bowl victory in February.

"Kyle Shanahan has an incredible career as a coordinator," the host of The Herd on FS1 explained. "Everywhere he's gone, He made Matt Schaub a pro bowler, he made Matt Ryan an MVP. Then he leaves, the teams aren't the same and the quarterbacks aren't the same. "

Cowherd pointed out some data on just how much better the 49ers have been with Jimmy Garoppolo on the field than when he's been off, but closed out his analysis with a strong take.

[RELATED: DeForest Buckner has big expectations for himself, 49ers in 2019 season]

"In two years, he will be a top-six coach."

With Shanahan and general manager John Lynch each having four years remaining on their contracts, 49ers fans can rest easy knowing they've got a very highly regarded head coach pacing the sidelines each week. The regular season opens Sept. 8 when San Francisco travels to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers. 

49ers, Raiders picked to be among most improved teams by NFL analyst

49ers, Raiders picked to be among most improved teams by NFL analyst

The 2018 NFL season was one every Bay Area fan would like to forget. Both the 49ers and Raiders ended the season with 4-12 records, as they each secured a top-five pick in the NFL draft.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared his predictions for the most improved organizations in 2019 and both the 49ers and Raiders made the cut.

The 49ers top Jeremiah's board with the promise of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo being healthy for training camp and an offseason that saw them shore up an already strong defensive line group, signing Dee Ford to a long-term deal and drafting former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa No. 2 overall in April's draft.

The Raiders, meanwhile, sit third in Jeremiah's rankings after making some of their own splashy moves over the NFL offseason. Oakland acquired All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Steelers and also signed Vontaze Burfict, who was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro with the Bengals in 2013.

[RELATED: 49ers' Kyle Shanahan ranked as 23rd-best veteran head coach by NFL.com]

It's hard to go anywhere but up for the Bay Area's NFL teams in 2019, but if Jeremiah's picks are accurate, there could be a lot more winning football coming to Northern California in the coming months.