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Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

John Lynch expects Jerick McKinnon to be a big part of the 49ers’ success in 2020

Sep 11, 2020 at 9:51 AM--

There is a lot of excitement to see what Jerick McKinnon can finally do within Kyle Shanahan's offense. That excitement grew as reports continuously spilled out of Santa Clara about how impressive the San Francisco 49ers running back looked during training camp.

McKinnon missed the past two seasons due to an ACL injury. In fact, assuming he plays, Sunday will be his first regular-season action with the 49ers after signing with the team in 2018.

General manager John Lynch joined KNBR on Thursday and was asked to share his thoughts on how McKinnon looked during training camp and whether or not he will be a big part of what the 49ers do this season.

"He's looked fantastic," Lynch responded on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "And yes, I do (feel he will be a big part). We've got four (running backs) on our active roster — Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and the common trait right there is they can all flat-out get it. I mean, they can run, and that is something that we've gravitated towards.

"We wanted to be a fast team, and Raheem was already here. Tevin's a guy who can run but also is a powerful back. Jerick was kind of the do-it-all guy, who could run but was tremendous in the pass game, and we really felt could take advantage of matchups in that pass game. So, I think they all have a role.

"Jeff Wilson, not as fast as those guys, but he plays fast, and he plays really physical. I remember him walking off on that 4th-and-2 touchdown against the Cardinals last year, our comeback win there."

McKinnon could offer Shanahan a different type of versatility, though. The coach intended for the running back to be a featured component of his offense in 2018. The 49ers had looked into adding a receiver that offseason but felt the money might be better spent on McKinnon, who would create matchup problems in multiple areas.

"[Our running backs] all play a role, and we're excited about them all, but yeah, Jet's looked tremendous," Lynch continued. "[He's] one of those guys who you just pull for. We obviously paid him a lot of money because there was a lot of interest in him, but that's not really what I'm concerned about. This guy works his tail off, and it's been a tough two years. Had the ACL surgery but then had some complications with extra bone growth that was irritating the tendons.

"There were days where I'm sure that he felt like, man, this just isn't working. But he never stopped working. They did a little cleanup last year. It seemed to work, and here he is. And he just looks outstanding.

"I'm so happy for the kid because he's really been a leader here even though he's never really played for us. He's been a real important piece of this team, and it's going to be so great to see him out there on the field. I'm really excited for him."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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