© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
There was a healthy level of optimism in Santa Clara on Friday, as the 49ers packed their suitcases and headed to their flight to Tampa, Florida. Nick Bosa, K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett and Weston Richburg were all questionable, but at least Bosa and Williams look ready to go from the jump on Sunday. Richburg will be evaluated after the team gets to Tampa (head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to make sure his knee holds up well after the long flight) and Verrett will be eased back in to action (he’s a potential Sunday inactive).
But for all the optimism, Jimmie Ward’s fractured finger and surgery leave him likely inactive and served as a reminder of the injury struggles that have typified the success-less seasons of this team in recent years. The same was true for Jerick McKinnon, who, on crutches, spoke to media for the first time since being placed on season-ending injured reserve.
McKinnon said the injury was unrelated to his ACL and meniscus tear last season and that he underwent a procedure on Tuesday to correct the issue.
“When I talked to the medical team, the MRIs, the issues with the meniscus, ACL and everything looked great, so that was reassuring for me,” McKinnon said. “It’s just one of those things that happened, that was kind of hard to avoid, you have no control over it, so like I said, for me it’s about mentally staying in the right place and working to get back.”
While there’s at least a reasonable chance McKinnon’s not back with the team next season (he has just $4 million remaining in guaranteed money, split over each of the next two seasons), he’s preparing like he’ll be back. He believes this year will be a chance for him to become further acquainted with Shanahan’s offense and learn from running backs coach Bobby Turner as well as his fellow backs.
McKinnon’s outlook is about as positive as you could expect for a player who’s lost two-straight seasons and who has a future that’s far from clear.
“For me, it’s about making sure I’m 100 percent coming back next year,” McKinnon said. “It’s definitely tough being out two seasons in a row. It’s not what I envisioned for myself when I came here, but that’s my journey, that’s what I have to deal with, and like I said, I gotta to do what I gotta to make sure I come back 110 percent next year.”