Running back Jerick McKinnon on Saturday opened his third training camp as a member of the 49ers.
It has been a long time coming, but McKinnon showed some flashes of why coach Kyle Shanahan made an issue out of signing him on the first day of free agency in 2018.
McKinnon has never appeared in a regular-season game with San Francisco due to a torn ACL, which he sustained a week before the 2018 opener. He has been on the practice field sparingly, as he missed all of last season when the graft on his left knee did not fill in properly.
But on Saturday, he showed some of the skills that Shanahan figured would make him a big part of the team’s third-down offense.
“When he came back last year, trying to get him back and he’d try to work through it, you could tell it just didn’t heal right,” Shanahan said after practice. “He had to go through all that stuff again.
“It’s still the first day, the first step, but you can tell it healed right. And you can tell Jet’s put that work in, and you feel all that he’s gone through the past two years. I feel he’s finally in position where he has a chance to have that comeback now.”
During the non-padded practice, McKinnon carried the ball on three running plays and reached high to pull in a toss from backup quarterback Nick Mullens on a crossing route.
Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman figure to be the 49ers’ top two running backs, but McKinnon gives the 49ers an element they have not enjoyed in recent years.
The last season he played was in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. He caught 51 passes for 421 yards that season.
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