49ers ink Jerick McKinnon to a 4-year deal worth $30M

The Niners could be set at running back with the signing of McKinnon, who fits their need for more explosiveness out of the backfield.

Kahron Spearman

Running back Jerick McKinnon is signing with the San Francisco 49ers, in a four-year, $30 million deal, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Playing behind Latavius Murray, the 25-year-old rushed for just 570 yards and three touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings last season, but his real value is in his receiving skills. He also grabbed 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns.

He also has special teams ability as a kickoff andpuntreturner.

He did solid work as a rusher his first two seasons, but has settled in south of 4.0 yards per carry each of the last two seasons. However, he has emerged as a strong presence in the passing game, catching 43 passes in 2016 and 51 in 2017. This past year he averaged a career high 8.3 yards per reception. By comparison, Carlos Hyde averaged 5.9 yards per reception, and has never averaged more than 6.0 yards per reception in the NFL

McKinnon's signing is an interesting move for the Niners, who are committing to a running back that's never been considered a traditional front-line back. It suggests they will employ him as an all-purpose threat, and mostly out of the backfield. 

Matt Breida and Joe Williams will backup the new signee, but the Niners could also draft a bigger back in the middle rounds.