Shanahan hand-picked McKinnon to be his lead back last summer and then an ACL tear derailed his season. Breida played well in his place, so we're expecting the two to be a formidable duo, a la Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman during Shanahan's days in Atlanta. In the 13 games that both Freeman and Coleman played in 2016, Freeman averaged 17.8 touches while Coleman averaged 11.5 touches. Last year, 49er running backs averaged 26.1 touches per game, so if that volume holds and Shahanan uses the same split as 2016, McKinnon would see 15.9 touches to Breida's 10.2 touches. Both backs should be fantasy relevant in 2019.
SF RB Jerick McKinnon - 2018 Fantasy Football Outlook
McKinnon just might have found the best possible situation of this year's free agent running backs by agreeing to terms with the San Francisco 49ers. And not just because the new deal makes him the fourth-highest paid running back in the NFL (south of only LeVeon Bell, Devonta Freeman, and LeSean McCoy). McKinnon, who ran for 570 yards and caught 51 passes for 421 yards in Minnesota last season, is now likely to be the starter in San Francisco ahead of Matt Breida and Joe Williams. Whatever the case, McKinnon's deal is massive for a player who spent his four seasons with the Vikings as a rotational player. Better still, HC Kyle Shanahan's history of coaxing production from running backs bodes well for a do-it-all threat like McKinnon.
The presence of Matt Breida and Joe Williams might be of some concern given that McKinnon has yet to prove he's capable of handling a workhorse role.
2018 Bottom Line
As NFL.com pointed out, Shanahan has helped running backs like Steve Slaton and Alfred Morris find success on the NFL scene. In addition, as ESPN.com noted, during his two years in Atlanta and last year in San Francisco, Shanahan RBs have finished in the top eight in receptions and in the top five in receiving yards all three years. Shanahan's track record coupled with McKinnon's big payday should ensure the kind of opportunities fantasy owners—especially those in PPR leagues—are looking for in a running back.