"When I first got here, I was lost," new San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon admitted to reporters after Thursday's practice. His head was spinning after the 49ers signed him to a four-year deal as free agency kicked off in March.

Nearly five months later, McKinnon is a lot more comfortable. That comfort level increases as he continues to absorb head coach Kyle Shanahan's playbook and becomes more familiar with what is being asked of him.

"Just being new to an offense, learning the verbiage and the plays was a lot when I first got here. I had to really focus in on studying and stuff like that. Since I've been here, in meetings and team meetings with Coach Shanahan, just seeing his IQ for the game and how he sees the game and the way he calls plays definitely has helped me grasp the offense a little bit more."

McKinnon says he is excited for the opportunity to take his game to the next level. He was brought in by the 49ers to not only reach his full potential but to also help elevate Shanahan's offense. San Francisco's head coach envisions McKinnon as a perfect fit for his system – a versatile and dangerous running back who can run or catch out of the backfield.

Many question McKinnon's smaller size and ability to take on the workload of a featured back.

"The interesting thing about him, I think he's going to be a huge asset in the pass game, we really think he's going to be a good runner," said general manager John Lynch on Thursday, "Carlos Hyde, who we lost, who did great for us -- a bigger back. Jerick's smaller in stature, but I think he plays big. Once I watched him a lot, I kind of got over those concerns of him being small. He plays big."

One of the players who will help McKinnon and the 49ers reach their potential is Jimmy Garoppolo. What is it about San Francisco's starting quarterback that is so impressive?

"I would just say his leadership and the leadership he takes amongst himself," McKinnon answered. "Not just the coaches. I've been on teams where the coaches have to fix something and then players put their input. Whereas Jimmy, he doesn't wait for the coaches to put their input first. If he sees something or wants something corrected or a certain way, he's going to voice that opinion.

"Everybody respects him and his game, so I think that's what makes him a great quarterback."