49ers RB McKinnon hits season-ending IR again

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Almost one year to the day after suffering a torn right ACL in practice, the San Francisco 49ers placed running back Jerick McKinnon on season-ending injured reserve for the second time in as many seasons.

The move on Saturday comes just four days after McKinnon suffered the latest in a series of setbacks when he attempted to take some reps in team drills during practice.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch said Saturday the fallout of that setback is that McKinnon would need another procedure on the knee.

"Those are decisions that we rely on the experts," Lynch said. "On this situation because it was a little complicated for Jerick most importantly and for us, we sought a lot of opinions on this and ultimately the decision was made that he needs to undergo another procedure, that he just wasn't going to be ready in eight weeks, it wasn't going to be an option. So that decision kind of was made for us."

While injured reserve in some form seemed to be the most likely destination for McKinnon, the question entering Saturday was whether the Niners would put the former Vikings running back on that list before making the 53-man roster or if they'd wait until Sunday.

Had the Niners waited until after McKinnon had been on the roster for 24 hours, they could have put McKinnon on injured reserve while preserving the ability to bring him back later this season.

As Lynch pointed out, the need for another medical procedure made that decision for the 49ers.

"We're hopeful for Jerick that this one is successful," Lynch said. "We believe it will be. There's a lot of good news about his knee. Unfortunately, there was some mechanical issues that didn't allow him to play this year,, and that's rough because he worked so diligently to get back and it was sad to see that not be able to take place. But Jerick is a fighter, and he won't be deterred right now. He'll go back on his time-frame and have this done and then go to work to try to get back and playing football."

The latest snag in McKinnon's comeback effort comes as a disappointment for the Niners and the 27-year-old after he had drawn close to a return, but couldn't quite get over the hump.

After a lengthy rehabilitation process, McKinnon and the 49ers hoped he would be ready at the start of training camp, but McKinnon had what Lynch described as a "flare-up" about a week and a half before camp, which led to him starting on the physically unable to perform list.

The Niners activated McKinnon from the PUP list on Aug. 6 and he twice participated in practice on a limited basis before knee soreness shut him down again. At that time, McKinnon had a platelet rich plasma injection, which put him on the sideline for the past three weeks before he returned on Tuesday.

McKinnon suffered the ACL tear on Sept. 1, 2018, and has yet to play a regular-season snap for the team since signing his four-year deal on March 14, 2018. His $3.7 million base salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed on April 1 and he's due to count $5.75 million against the cap for this season.

The Niners are expected to enter this season with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert as their primary options at running back. The team released running back Jeff Wilson Jr. on Saturday, although he could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.