49ers retaining pair of injured players
What would a 49ers offseason be without charting the progress of a player’s reconstructed knee? Or multiple players’ comebacks?
Tuesday brought confirmation, from a league source, that two 49ers will stick around amid comebacks from knee injuries: running back Jerick McKinnon and defensive end Ronald Blair.
McKinnon is restructuring a contract that’s netted him over $16 million already and had called for him to make $6.5 million salary this season, NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco first reported. McKinnon has yet to suit up for an official game since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament before the 2018 season and then requiring follow-up procedure last September to cost him another season.
The 49ers still posted the NFL’s second-best rushing attack last season behind Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson. Breida is a restricted free agent.
Blair re-signed on a one-year deal, NFL Network first reported. He was enjoying a solid, under-the-radar season last year before tearing his ACL while stopping the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson for a 1-yard loss late in a Nov. 11 loss.
The 49ers are hoping Blair’s ACL comeback goes as well as Jimmy Garoppolo’s last season rather than a delayed route such as those of McKinnon, defensive lineman Kentavius Street or the handful of ACL-torn draft picks from years past under former general manager Trent Baalke.
Adding depth to their defensive line became paramount when the 49ers agreed Monday to trade Blair’s good friend, Buckner, to the Indianapolis Colts. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh championed Blair’s approach last season, often saying: “If you like winning, you like Ronnie Blair.”
A fifth-round pick in 2016, Blair had three sacks last season to raise his career total to 13½.
Blair was one of a dozen unrestricted free agents that could have signed elsewhere starting Wednesday at 1 p.m.