Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Jerick McKinnon has been running and cutting, says 49ers running backs capable of being NFL’s best

Apr 17, 2019 at 5:51 PM--

Running back Jerick McKinnon was among the many San Francisco 49ers players who suffered injuries last season. He figured to be a significant part of head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense in 2018 but tore his ACL during a practice before the start of the regular season.

The 49ers have already said they will be careful with McKinnon as he rehabs and works his way back. Perhaps more careful than even quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. That's because it's more difficult for running backs to avoid hits and making quick movements on the practice field.

It sounds like McKinnon is making progress in that area. He spoke with reporters on Wednesday and said he feels good doing work on his surgically-repaired ACL.

"It feels good," McKinnon said. "I'm confident and excited about the strides that I've made since working with the new medical staff. Every day is a work in progress, and just getting to the final step."

Where is McKinnon in his rehab?

"I've been running straight, cutting, all that type of stuff," he answered. "Like I said before, it's just a timetable thing but I feel good, and I'm just excited for what's ahead of me."

While McKinnon doesn't have a timetable for his return and doesn't want to make any predictions, he does believe that participating in training camp is a realistic goal. McKinnon wants to be out there with his teammates come Week 1.

"I haven't played in so long," he said. "You want to get to that first game so bad just to be back out there but, like I said, every day is a work in progress. You've got to win today, especially in a rehab process like this."

The 49ers added running back Tevin Coleman to their roster in March. He joins a running back room that already included McKinnon, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert. McKinnon believes San Francisco's group of running backs is capable of being the best in the NFL.

"I watched [Coleman] play in Atlanta," McKinnon said. "Very explosive. If we're not the best running back group, everybody in that room is going to be disappointed with the type of ability that we have. He's a great teammate, got a great personality, so I'm looking forward to working with him."

The 49ers running backs share a lot of similarities. They are all fast and can be utilized as receiving threats in addition to rushing the football. Those traits will make it easier to transition should injuries devastate the position for the second season in a row.

"The thing that excites me the most is just how much depth we have," McKinnon said. "Everybody can do the same thing. Injuries bugged us last year, and adding another back should just keep everybody healthy throughout the whole season."

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