The 49ers may have found the running back they didn’t know they needed.
When Alfred Morris was a free agent this offseason, the 49ers signed Jerick McKinnon instead.
Morris is a veteran running back who played for 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan from 2012 to 2013. In 2017, he played for the Dallas Cowboys. McKinnon is a career backup who played the first four seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. Despite his lack of starting experience, the 49ers made McKinnon the sixth-highest paid running back in the league in terms of average annual salary.
Now, McKinnon is injured, and Morris is the 49ers’ starting running back — they signed him Aug. 14. He leads the team in rushing after playing only one preseason game. He gained 84 yards on the ground and ran harder than every other 49ers running back Saturday during their 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
“I was real pleased with how Alf ran the ball,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “We could start seeing it during the week of practice, he was running the ball well and our O-line was blocking well. I was very excited how it carried over to the game. I would have been surprised if we didn’t run the ball well. I was real happy with that group as a whole.”
It was the running game’s first good performance of the preseason.
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