Jerick McKinnon

Melvin Gordon not a fit for 49ers in wake of Tevin Coleman ankle injury

Melvin Gordon not a fit for 49ers in wake of Tevin Coleman ankle injury

49ers running back Tevin Coleman suffered a left ankle injury in the first half of their 31-17 Week 1 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday and did not return. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted he was "concerned" about the injury, and that Coleman would undergo an MRI on Monday.

Coleman, of course, signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason, well before some higher profile backs like Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon dominated the storylines with their contract-related holdouts.

Elliott reached an agreement on an extension with the Cowboys last week, in time for him to suit up for their Week 1 game. Gordon, however, remains steadfast in his insistence that he will not play for the Chargers this season until he gets a more lucrative contract. He is not currently with the team.

So, if Coleman is forced to miss an extended period of time, would San Francisco consider trading for Gordon?

The Wisconsin product's talent is undeniable. Gordon has topped 1,375 yards from scrimmage in each of the last three seasons, totaling 38 total touchdowns over that span while being named to two Pro Bowls. But, simply put, he is not a fit for the 49ers' roster, regardless of whether or not Coleman misses any time.

For one, San Francisco already is spending a boatload on the running back position. Between Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and Jerick McKinnon, the 49ers have allocated nearly $12 million to running backs this season -- more than 5.1 percent of their total cap -- which ranks as the third-highest total running back salary of any team in the league. And no, that doesn't include fullback Kyle Juszcyzyk, who is making $5.95 million this season.

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If Gordon is holding out from the Chargers despite knowing he won't accrue a year of service -- thereby not getting any closer to free agency -- why would he come to San Francisco when a large payday would not await him there?

More to the point, the 49ers don't need Gordon. Outside of the defensive line, one could argue running back is the deepest position on San Francisco's roster, and that's with Coleman banged up and McKinnon already on season-ending IR. Jeff Wilson, who looked great in the preseason, is sitting there on the 49ers' practice squad. If Coleman is forced to miss an extended period, it is far more likely San Francisco looks to a cheap, internal solution like Wilson than an expensive diva currently putting his own priorities in front of his team's.

49ers' Jerick McKinnon undergoes right knee surgery, focusing on 2020

49ers' Jerick McKinnon undergoes right knee surgery, focusing on 2020

SANTA CLARA – As the 49ers were packing for their trip Friday afternoon to Tampa, Florida, running back Jerick McKinnon moved across the locker room on crutches with a brace on his right knee.

Several teammates approached to hug him and wish him well. McKinnon will miss his second consecutive season since signing with the 49ers on the first day of free agency in 2017.

McKinnon underwent surgery Tuesday on his right knee – the same knee but a different condition that kept him out last year. He sustained a torn ACL and cartilage damage a year ago. McKinnon said it is "reassuring" his ACL and meniscus cartilage are fine. Other unspecified issues plagued him this summer when he twice attempted to return to practice.

“I know what I got to do,” McKinnon said. “These guys have a good plan for me. It’s about staying mentally in it and support my teammates, and doing what I need to do to make sure I’m healthy coming back next year.

“It wasn’t feeling right, and there were some other things that needed to be fixed.”

McKinnon made it clear he wants to be back with the 49ers next season.

“I love this team,” he said. “That’s why I came here. I love the coaching staff, the whole organization, the Yorks, John (Lynch), Kyle (Shanahan), all the coaches. Coach (Bobby) Turner and everyone has been supportive -- behind me, 100 percent, and there’s nothing more you can ask for.”

But in order for McKinnon to return to the 49ers next season, it seems likely the 49ers would want to seek a dramatic reduction from his scheduled $6.5 million base salary for 2020.

“For me, it’s about making sure I’m 100 percent coming back next year,” McKinnon said. “Definitely, (It’s) tough being out two seasons in a row. It’s not what I envisioned for myself when I came here. But that’s my journey, and that’s what I have to deal with. And I got to do what I got to do to make sure I come back 110 percent next season.”

The 49ers open the season Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida expected to share the load at running back. Raheem Mostert also will be available on game days and could be mixed into the action, too. Even without a healthy McKinnon, the 49ers have a lot of speed in their backfield.

When asked what he expects to see from his teammates this season, McKinnon had a simple answer,

“A lot of explosive plays. Nothing less," McKinnon said.

[RELATED: Jimmy G among five 49ers to watch in Week 1 vs. Bucs]

Breida battled an ankle injury but still managed to rush for 814 yards last season. Coleman had his best season, gaining 800 yards with the Atlanta Falcons. Mostert averaged 7.7 yards on 34 attempts before he fractured his forearm. McKinnon called Kyle Juszczyk the best fullback in the league.

“You saw what Matt did last year, playing with an ankle injury,” McKinnon said. “You know what Tevin can do from Atlanta.

“Like I said before the season, our group is going to be explosive, making a lot of plays, show a lot of speed, and the coaches are going to do a great job of keeping all those guys fresh.”

Matt Breida looking forward to Tampa Bay return with 49ers healthy

Matt Breida looking forward to Tampa Bay return with 49ers healthy

SANTA CLARA -- San Francisco running back Matt Breida is looking forward to returning to his hometown of Tampa with the 49ers considerably healthier than the last time they visited. 

Breida battled through an ankle injury for most of 2018 but still managed to carry the ball 14 times for 106 yards in the team’s Week 12 match up with the Buccaneers. That game was also rookie running back Jeff Wilson’s debut and backup quarterback Nick Mullens was under center. 

San Francisco is much healthier as it embarks on the 2019 regular season. Jimmy Garoppolo is at the helm and Breida is clearly excited to have the team at (almost) full strength.

“It’s awesome,” Breida said. “We were beat up last year and it feels great to go into the first game with a full team and I just can’t wait to see what we can do.”

One of the pieces the 49ers will be missing in 2019 is Jerick McKinnon, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve just a few days ago. There was plenty of talk about how stacked the running back room was during the offseason, and while Breida knows the team will miss McKinnon, he still thinks the talent level is very high. 

“I still look at it the same way,” Breida said. “Obviously it sucks that we don’t have Jerick, he brings a whole different aspect to the game, but we still have a lot of great guys in the room and I still feel like we have one of the best backfields in the NFL. It’s going to be an amazing year.” 

Brieda will share the workload with Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert. Coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t envision a clear No. 1 running back, but instead will scheme players into the game plan. 

“There are certain plays when we do a game plan on a Monday and Tuesday where we have a specific vision of what player we want to have that play, which would be any of the three guys who are up,” Shanahan said. “After that, it’s more of who’s fresh.”

Having fresh legs could play a factor in Tampa where the temperature has been forecasted to be in the 90s and the humidity somewhere upwards of 70-percent. Shanahan feels like each back can do the job. 

“There’s not a run plan that I don’t mind any of them on,” Shanahan said. “Most of the pass plays you can put all of them on. There are certain guys you prefer more than others on certain plays, but we know that going in and those are the guys I’ll ask for on that play.”

Even with Shanahan’s confidence in him, Breida still feels that chip on his shoulder from being an undrafted free agent. 

“Honestly I feel like there’s always something you want to prove every year,” Breida confessed. “For me, it’s just to let everyone know that I still belong in the NFL, that I still love the game of football and to show everyone that I can be that guy.”

One of the aspects of Breida’s game that he's been focused on improving is his pass-catching ability. Over his three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida caught 22 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. In his two seasons with the 49ers, Breida has caught 48 of his 67 targets for 441 yards and three touchdowns. 

“I feel like I’ve developed a lot, especially coming from my college where we didn’t throw it all that much,” Breida said. “It took me a good year to understand how to run routes, get on the JUGS, have quarterbacks throw to me and learn coverages. I feel like each year I’m getting better at that so hopefully this year I can even improve my game more.” 

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Like most of the 49ers, Brieda is just excited to get the season rolling with a healthy team and a positive outlook. 

“Right now I’m happy the position that we’re in, it’s going to be a good year.”