The San Francisco 49ers have parted ways with running back Jerrick McKinnon, according to reports.
McKinnon made it known he was not interested in a return to the Bay Area following the end of last season. He confirmed the sentiment on Friday, April 30, when it was reported he would ink a new contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Peter Schrager, of Fox Sports and the NFL Network, was first to report the news on Friday morning.
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) April 30, 2021
McKinnon has Long Desired a Departure From the 49ers
The 49ers signed McKinnon in 2018. Yet over the course of three seasons, the running back only appeared in 16 games due to multiple knee injuries that kept him sidelined for the entirety of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
In the interim, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. overtook the RB1 and RB2 positions for the 49ers, rendering McKinnon to a backup role. However, he did start four games during the 2020 season as Mostert missed eight outings with injury, and Wilson Jr. sat out four.
After amassing 572 total yards from scrimmage and scoring five touchdowns in his final 49ers season, McKinnon took part in a live stream conversation during which he told teammate Deebo Samuel of his intention to move on from San Francisco.
“Am I stay with the Niners? Man, f*** no. Hell you talking about?,” McKinnon said. “We gone. We gone.”
The dual-threat running back was a something of big-time signing for the 49ers in 2018 after spending four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, where he racked up more than 1,900 rushing yards and nearly 1,000 receiving yards. He also scored a total of 12 touchdowns.
49ers Have Already Signed Backfield Replacement for McKinnon
Eight days prior to the announcement that McKinnon was headed to the two-time defending AFC Champion Chiefs, the 49ers signed a high-level backup to round out their own running back rotation.
Former Giant Wayne Gallman Jr. signed a one-year deal with San Francisco on Thursday, April 21, just a few days after an initial free agent interview with the team.
Gallman filled in for Saquon Barkley last season, after the Giants star running back was sidelined due to an ACL tear he suffered during a Week 2 matchup against the Chicago Bears.
The 26-year-old Gallman is a four-year veteran of the NFL. He posted the best campaign of his career in 2020, rushing for 682 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. He also scampered into the end zone on six occasions.
Gallman, who played his collegiate football for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers, is also adept at catching passes out of the backfield. He tallied 21 receptions last season for a total of 114 yards through the air.
As important as a running back’s overall production is, how often he actually finds himself on the field to produce matters even more.
Gallman appeared in 15 games last season, starting 10 of them, and displayed a level of durability coveted by the 49ers after a season defined by injuries.