The 49ers could not bring back Jerick McKinnon on his scheduled salary this season, so it took a little bit of work to keep the union together for another year.
McKinnon wished to remain with the 49ers, but he wanted to hear a commitment from coach Kyle Shanahan before he felt comfortable signing a deal for the 2020 season that reduced his pay from $6.8 million to $910,000.
Shanahan told Greg Papa this week on "49ers Game Plan" that while general manager John Lynch and chief negotiator Paraag Marathe dealt with McKinnon’s agent on the contract, McKinnon placed a call to his coach.
“He said, ‘Hey, Kyle, I just need to know if I’m coming back, I want to make sure there are no limitations on me,’” Shanahan recalled McKinnon asking him.
McKinnon told Shanahan in March that his knee felt great. McKinnon missed the 2018 season due to a torn ACL. Then, he was unavailable for 2019 due to complications from the original surgery.
McKinnon told Shanahan he did not want any special treatment during training camp. He wanted to follow the work schedule of someone without any health concerns.
“And I told him, ‘Yes,’” Shanahan said. “And I kept my promise on that. But he made it very easy just by watching him out there. He looked good right away. His knee has looked great.”
Shanahan said there is no limit on how much McKinnon can play on Sunday with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman out with knee injuries. McKinnon and Jeff Wilson are likely to share the workload. Rookie JaMycal Hasty will be in uniform as the 49ers’ third running back.
Through two games, McKinnon has only nine touches, but he has made the most of them. He has rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on six carries. He also has three receptions for 20 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s been easy to ease him into games because we have so much depth there with how good Raheem is and with how good Tevin is,” Shanahan said. “Jet has really owned that third-down role, which has allowed Bobby (Turner, 49ers running backs coach) to do the substitutions.
“Now, Jet has a bigger opportunity to get more plays. He’s ready for it. I know he always wants it.”