PHOENIX – The 49ers could get out of Jerick McKinnon’s contract with minimal financial impact before next week.
But general manager John Lynch believes it would be foolish for the team to part ways with McKinnon prior to April 1.
“Yeah, Jerick is going to be a part of us,” Lynch said Monday at the NFL owners meeting. “We’re excited to see that through.”
As part of the terms of the four-year, $30 million contract the sides agreed upon last year, McKinnon’s full $3.7 million salary for 2019 becomes fully guaranteed next Monday. He can also earn another $300,000 in bonuses during the upcoming season.
McKinnon picked up $11.7 million in fully guaranteed money at signing last year, but his season ended before it ever began. McKinnon tore his ACL a week before the start of the regular season.
He is on pace for a full return for training camp, according to the team.
“Jerick’s working incredibly hard,” Lynch said. “He’s always had a chip on his shoulder because that was his first opportunity to be the guy. I’m sure he’ll have a bigger chip on his shoulder. But he’s very much a part of our plans. The way he’s working is very encouraging. But it’s a big thing to come back from, that’s for sure. Yeah, Jerick is going to be a part of us.”
The 49ers’ signing of free-agent running back Tevin Coleman was the source of some speculation about McKinnon’s future. Lynch said the 49ers did not enter the offseason determined to add a veteran running back.
"We were comfortable going into the season with our running back group," Lynch said.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was among the top players available on the open market. Bell signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the New York Jets.
The market was soft for the other running backs. Coleman, who played two seasons with Kyle Shanahan as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the 49ers.
“We saw an opportunity with Tevin and we pounced on it, because we knew the player he was,” Lynch said. “And that’s one where Kyle had first-hand experience with him. If we could do it at that price, absolutely, we’d be involved. We worked hard to get it done, and we’re really thrilled.”
Coleman and McKinnon are joined by running backs Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson on the 49ers’ offseason roster. Lynch said the club is currently not engaged in trade talks of any kind.