Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–Almost every fantasy football draft held before Sept. 1 had Jerick McKinnon landing as someone’s starting running back. Those people are now asking: Why did we draft so early?

Much like 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan must be asking himself: Why didn’t we end practice one play earlier?

McKinnon, considered an every-down back when he signed a four-year, $30 million deal as a free agent in the offseason, blew out his knee making a simple cut on the final play of practice on Sept. 1. He’s out for the season.

“We’re concerned, but we’re also confident,” 49ers general manager John Lynch insisted. “We’ve got a lot of good football players here.”

Alas, none at running back nearly as highly regarded as McKinnon, who rushed for 570 yards, caught 51 passes for 421 yards and totaled five touchdowns for the Vikings in a part-time role last season.

Veteran Alfred Morris, initially acquired as an extra body to help run drills with McKinnon (strained calf) and Joe Williams (fractured ribs) sidelined, is expected to be the club’s featured back, perhaps as early as the second half of the opener.

Morris, a six-year veteran, was so unimpressive when he rushed for 547 yards and one touchdown for Dallas last season, he found himself out of work this summer.

–Sitting pretty at an estimated $37 million under the salary cap, it’s no surprise the 49ers made an offer for Oakland Raiders holdout pass-rushing standout Khalil Mack before he was dealt to the Chicago Bears.

So you can only imagine what the club’s interest might be should the equivalent become available at running back.

Speaking of which, has anybody seen Le’Veon Bell lately?

Lynch can’t comment on Bell’s current stalemate with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he did explain why the 49ers would be interested in Mack.

“We would have been foolish not to (make an offer). The guy is a spectacular player,” Lynch said. “We’ve always said we’ll exhaust every option to improve our team. We went aggressively.”

–Former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman plans to start the season opener against the Vikings exactly 10 months after suffering a career-threatening Achilles injury last November.

If he does, he hopes to send a special “shout-out” to, of all people, Kobe Bryant.

It was Bryant, after all, who helped the 30-year-old Sherman get back to what he hopes to be full strength in the injury-recovering process.

“He and I had a previous relationship and talked and texted all the time,” Sherman explained. “So he gave me some pointers and things I needed to do early on in the process to make sure that I expedited the healing process and I was more proactive than reactive. I think that was one of the big things.”

Sherman intercepted two passes in nine games last season and enters 2018 tied for the sixth-most (32) among all active players.
–Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. You could argue that a healthy Richard Sherman could impact the 49ers’ defense as much as Garoppolo will the offense, but that was before running back Jerick McKinnon’s season-ending injury. Now the offense is all about Garoppolo, just as it was at the end of last season.
–Tackle Mike McGlinchey. The 49ers have decent depth along the offensive front, which gave the coaching staff every opportunity to bring the former Notre Dame standout along slowly. But they’re throwing him immediately to the wolves, starting with a tough Minnesota Vikings defense. That says something about just how ready he is.