Jerick McKinnon suffers knee injury, out for 2018 season

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Jerick McKinnon
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Jerick McKinnon /

The former Minnesota Vikings change-of-pace back who is now with the San Francisco 49ers tore his ACL on Saturday afternoon.

Coming into the 2018 season, most Minnesota Vikings fans were likely interested in seeing how Jerick McKinnon was going to fare in San Francisco with the 49ers.

The former Vikings running back was more of a second fiddle in Minnesota, playing the change-of-pace role to Adrian Peterson, Dalvin Cook, and Latavius Murray during his time in the Twin Cities. After signing with the 49ers this year, McKinnon was expected to have the “Devonta Freeman role” in his new team’s offense according to NBC Sports Bay Area.

The McKinnon hype train was an intriguing storyline revolving around the Vikings’ Week 1 opponent (and fantasy football players everywhere), but it seems to have come to a screeching halt.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings /

Minnesota Vikings

The Georgia Southern product missed a majority of the 2018 preseason with a calf injury, but he had recently returned to practice. The bad luck continued however, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that he suffered a torn ACL on Saturday, an injury that will end his season.

McKinnon’s injury comes at a terrible time after notching a career-high 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards in relief of an injured Cook last season with Minnesota. McKinnon parlayed his career year with a four-year, $30 million contract (including $18 million in guarantees) with the 49ers last March.

This development handicaps the backfield for San Francisco as they enter their upcoming trip to U.S. Bank Stadium next Sunday.

With McKinnon out of the fold, the 49ers will likely turn to recent free-agent pickup Alfred Morris and Matt Breida (who has been banged up with a shoulder injury this preseason) to help take pressure off of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo against the Vikings.

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Despite the injury, McKinnon’s lofty contract should convince San Francisco to take another shot on him in 2019. Still, the injury is a huge disappointment for a back that Minnesota took with a third-round draft pick back in 2014.