Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Jerick McKinnon embarrassing 49ers linebackers in training camp

Aug 23, 2020 at 7:44 AM--

There are a lot of people inside the San Francisco 49ers' facility rooting for Jerick McKinnon. There are a lot of people outside of it doing the same. The running back has yet to take a regular-season snap since signing with the team in March of 2018.

An ACL injury ended his first season with the 49ers before it started — about a week before it began, in fact. A setback a year later forfeited his 2019 campaign.

Now, McKinnon may be back to form. He looks like the player head coach Kyle Shanahan envisioned when he sought to make him a featured part of the offense two years ago.

It wasn't too long ago that many questioned whether or not McKinnon would make the roster. Now, he is embarrassing his defensive teammates during one-on-one competitions.

"None of the team's linebackers can keep up with running back Jerick McKinnon in this drill," wrote Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "He first shook Fred Warner, then did the same to Dre Greenlaw. He juked Azeez Al-Shaair so badly that the linebacker fell down, allowing McKinnon an especially easy catch-and-run."

That's good news for everyone rooting for McKinnon to prove his doubters wrong. Teammates can't help but praise the running back whenever asked about him.

"Jet brings a little bit of everything," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said this past week. "He's a unique running back. ... He sees the field very similar to a quarterback, and that's a cool part because when it's a soft zone, he'll feel the spot and get to the spot where you want him to, and he sees it the same way as me."

One of the other linebackers chasing down McKinnon on the practice field has been equally impressed with the running back.

"He's been nice. He's been working real hard, been grinding," linebacker Kwon Alexander said last weekend. "You can tell when he gets out there, his cuts is precise. Everything is on-point. He's just moving, trying to get back under himself. Everybody can see it. He's been doing his thing over the offseason."

McKinnon is trying to move past the disappointment of the past two seasons. He is staying positive and embracing the future rather than dwelling on the past. Getting to this point was far from easy, though.

"It is one of those things that you kind of want to put behind you," McKinnon recently said. "It was a dark time, and I found myself in a dark place, at moments, but I'm past that point.

"I'm here to play football. I'm here to get better each and every day, and I'm just here to compete. That's the main focus — just compete, win the day, stack the days, and keep moving."

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