Agent RB Jerick McKinnon to leave Vikings for 49ers

Nov 12 2017 Detroit MI USA Detroit Lions defensive back D.J. Hayden walks on the field before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL free agents: Pat Shurmur product Jerick McKinnon gets big contract from 49ers, not Giants

McKinnon likely will start for the 49ers since they lost last year's starter, Carlos Hyde, in free agency to Cleveland.

The reported deal would make McKinnon the fourth-highest paid running back in the National Football League, behind Le'Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy. His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a ideal fit for our scheme. But we'll get to that. He also caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns.

McKinnon spent four years in Minnesota, mostly as a backup, after being drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Georgia Southern. But the 49ers will platoon at the position - and McKinnon is almost the same size as Atlanta's Devonta Freeman, who logged 2,135 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns in two seasons with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator.

McKinnon figures to be the top option to start, barring a move in the 2018 NFL Draft, and can be a risky cog in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

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Richburg spent the past four seasons with the New York Giants but played only four games a year ago because of a concussion.

The San Francisco 49ers aren't done building yet.

As the lead back in San Francisco, it's reasonable to expect and uptick from the roughly 12.5 touches per game he's averaged over the last two seasons, but we're unlikely to see him approach the 20-touch range. Jerick McKinnon is the pass-catching piece that head coach Kyle Shanahan needs for his offensive system - and one the 49ers' backfield lacked in 2017. They went 5-0 after Garoppolo took over as starting quarterback and finished the year with a 6-10 mark and plenty of optimism they hope to carry over into 2018.

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