Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


Kyle Juszczyk impressed by Jerick McKinnon’s progress after missing the last two seasons

Aug 11, 2020 at 12:14 PM--


San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams was asked last week to identify one player he was looking forward to seeing this season. His choice was running back Jerick McKinnon, who he had an opportunity to train with this offseason.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Jet," Williams told reporters. "After two years, the way he's looked in the offseason, I just can't fathom him not being a breakout player."

McKinnon has been working to return from the ACL injury suffered before the start of the 2018 season. That came after signing with the 49ers just six months earlier. He has yet to take a regular-season snap with the team. That could change this season.

McKinnon hopes to prove he is the player head coach Kyle Shanahan envisioned upon his signing with the 49ers.

Shanahan admitted the loss of McKinnon in 2018 forced the coach to alter his plan for the season. The running back figured to be a featured component within Shanahan's always evolving offense.

"I'm not going to lie. It changes things pretty drastically," Shanahan said before the start of that season.

Kyle Juszczyk spoke with reporters on Tuesday via a video conference call and was told about Williams' comments from last week. The 49ers fullback could not agree more with his new teammate along the offensive line.

"I think we all share the same sentiments as Trent," Juszczyk said. "Jet has looked phenomenal. You just would never guess, going out there, and watching the way he practices, how smooth he is, how he doesn't second guess himself, how quickly he answers questions in meetings, all that kind of stuff, you would never guess that this guy hasn't been on the field for two years.

"He just makes things look so natural, so smooth, that I think there can only be positive things for him this year. I think he's going to have a really good year."

Another Niner running back, Raheem Mostert, is excited for McKinnon to prove doubters wrong. He believes the time being sidelined has allowed McKinnon to absorb and master Shanahan's playbook completely and that the recovering running back has served as a valuable resource for teammates.

"I'm trying to pick his brain, and he's trying to pick my brain with the run scheme," Mostert said in May. "We're doing a great job right now, and I can't wait for him to show what everyone's been doubting him on and missing out. I'm excited, man. It's going to be a surprise for everyone."

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