In this article I will be giving my evaluations of Jerick McKinnon and Marquise Goodwin. McKinnon has spent his entire career so far in Minnesota as a complimentary/receiving back, but now will get his opportunity at being the lead guy in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. After an injury-ridden start to his career in Buffalo, Goodwin was brought in on a 2-year deal to San Francisco and had a breakout season with nearly 1,000 yards receiving. As a result, he was awarded with a 3-year extension back in March 2018. Both McKinnon and Goodwin are expected to be key contributors and dangerous weapons for Jimmy Garoppolo.

I evaluate Running Backs on 10 traits, each weighted differently based on importance. Traits are listed as follows (not in order of importance):

Mental Processing: Pre-snap recognition, key & diagnose, football intelligence.

Pad Level: Run low to the ground with knee bend, get skinny through the hole, fall forward when finishing runs.
Vision: Post-snap path, set up blocks, improve and create when blocking breaks down.

Burst: Explosion through hole, accelerate to top speed.
Force Missed Tackles: Agility/Elusiveness to avoid defenders, power/strength to break tackles, contact balance to remain on feet.

Speed: Ability to run away from defenders.

Ball Security: Maintain ball possession.

Receiving: Route running to get separation, catch & gather.

Pass Blocking: Hold ground vs pass rusher, give QB time in pocket.

Competitive Intangibles: Leadership, fortitude, endurance, consistency, toughness, durability.

I evaluate Wide Receivers on 10 traits, each weighted differently based on importance. Traits are listed as follows (not in order of importance):

Mental Processing: Pre-snap recognition, key & diagnose, football intelligence.

Release: Fight through or avoiding press coverage, getting into route stem.

Separation Quickness: Create space at the top of route.

Speed: Ability to run away from defenders.

Body Control: Adjust to the ball placement of throw, keep feet in bounds.

Ball Skills: Tracking the ball in the air, hands to bring in the catch.
Yards After Catch: Force missed tackles, get upfield for yards.
Ball Security: Maintain ball possession.
Run Blocking: Create lane or space for runner.
Competitive Intangibles: Leadership, fortitude, endurance, consistency, toughness, durability.
Grading scale terms (from best to worst):

Name: Jerick McKinnon
Team: Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers (2018)
Number: 21 (Vikings), 28 (49ers)
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 205 lbs
Age: 26

2017 Regular Season: 16 Games, 150 Rushes, 570 Rushing Yards, 3.8 Yards Per Attempt, 51 Receptions, 421 Receiving Yards, 5 Total Touchdowns, 3 Fumbles.


2016: Ankle Sprain, missed Week 8.


5th year RB. Tested extremely well at the NFL Scouting Combine, including a 4.41 40-yard dash and a positional record of 32 bench reps. Drafted in 2014 in the 3rd round by the Minnesota Vikings. Has played under Head Coach Mike Zimmer for entire career with the Vikings. Played a limited role for the first 4 games of the season with Dalvin Cook operating as the team’s featured back. Split time with Latavius Murray after Cook’s injury starting in Week 5.


Solid/Good Mental Processing. Great feel and instincts when running tosses and outside zones. Patient to let blocks develop on the edge. Knows how to find soft spots and open areas of the field when running routes. Good awareness of blocking assignments and where blitzers are coming from.
Solid Pad Level. Lowers shoulder for leverage when finishing runs.

Good Vision. Stays on toes after mesh point, allowing for better sight over linemen. Uses good, sharp angles, especially on misdirections, counters, tosses, and outside zone runs where he’s most dangerous. Solid pacing. Likes to attack the backside of the play, making defenses pay for over-pursuing. Possesses a very explosive lateral cut to evade defensive linemen and linebackers penetrating behind the line of scrimmage.

Good Burst. Flashes decisiveness and significant explosion when attacking open running lanes between the tackles.

Good/Great ability to Force Missed Tackles. Good balance and dexterity to wiggle through tackles. Able to stop on a dime. Makes cuts from different body positions and angles. Very strong. Lowers shoulder into defensive backs and has the power to fall forward consistently on contact.

Elite Speed. Matches speed with defensive backs in the 2nd and 3rd levels. Rarely gets caught from behind.

Great Ball Security. Covers ball with both arms when running through traffic. Only 3 career fumbles, all occurring within a 3-week span in 2017.

Great Receiver. Very efficient on screen plays. Sells the block before leaking out into his route. Patient and sets up blocks well at the 2nd level. Soft hands, always looks the ball in. Plucks low-thrown balls near the ground easily. Has experience lining up wide.

Great Pass Blocker. Quick to scan and pick up blitzers. Aggressive and powerful at the point of attack against pass rushers.
Solid/Good Competitive Intangibles. Showed improvement with increased workload. Doesn’t lose effectiveness late in games. Tough and durable, remaining relatively healthy throughout most of career.

Mental Processing. Unaware of backside linebackers or defensive ends getting containment when choosing to bounce runs outside. Inconsistent knowledge and anticipation of blocks developing in gap runs.

Pad Level: Upright runner. Doesn’t use leverage or low center of gravity consistently enough to maximize change of direction ability.

Vision: Takes unnecessary steps in gap runs, causing him to be late to the hole. Lacks patience inside. Doesn’t always wait for the lane to develop on inside zones and tries to bounce runs outside too quickly. Needs better spatial awareness and footwork when shifting from gap to gap. Has a tendency to run into linemen at the line of scrimmage when making cuts.

Burst: Doesn’t always use full burst when getting to the edge. Seems to wait for cutback lane to open.

Force Missed Tackles: Despite athleticism, doesn’t have elite elusiveness in space. Lacks the creativity to make multiple defenders miss, although he has improved in this area compared to seasons prior. Strong but rarely breaks tackles with power.

Overall, Jerick McKinnon is a complimentary back you can win with, with the ability to be a lead back who is heavily involved in the team’s passing game as a dual threat. He has the tools to run effectively in gap schemes, but he excels as a cutback runner in a zone heavy scheme. Kyle Shanahan’s system emphasizes zone runs, play action, and finding ways to get their running backs in space in the passing game, which is an ideal fit for McKinnon’s skillset. He may not be carrying the ball 18-25 times a game, but you can still expect him to get a healthy mix carries and catches.

Name: Marquise Goodwin
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Number: 11
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180 lbs
Age: 27

2017 Regular Season: 16 Games, 56 Receptions, 962 Receiving Yards, 4 Rushes, 44 Rushing yards, 2 Touchdowns, 0 Fumbles, 4 Dropped Passes.

2013: Hand Fracture, Week 1 during game, missed next 4 games.

2014: Concussion, Week 4 during practice, missed that week’s game. Hamstring Pull, Week 7 during practice, missed that week’s game along with the next game. Rib Bruise, Week 10 during game, missed next 2 games.

2015: Rib Fracture, Preseason, missed Weeks 1-4. Rib Fracture, Week 6 during game, placed on IR.

2016: Concussion, Preaseason Week 3 during practice, missed that week’s game and final preseason game. Concussion, Week 2 during game. Concussion, Week 7 during game, missed Week 8.

2017: Concussion, Week 5 during game. Concussion, Week 17 during game.

6th year WR. Former track star at the University of Texas. Ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine (5th fasted in Combine history). Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Played under Head Coaches Doug Marrone, Rex Ryan, and Anthony Lynn while in Buffalo. Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 to play for new Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. Lined up as the X, Y, and Z receiver along the formation.

Good Mental Processing. Cognizant of down and distance in 3rd down situations. Finds open areas of zones when running crossing routes over the middle. Knows how to attack off coverage. Comes back toward line of scrimmage and gets open on broken plays.
Solid/Good Release. Explosive off the line to beat press.

Consistent stem on deep and intermediate routes, running at full speed and staying vertical with no tells. Sets up seem routes from slot by leaning outside and then cutting vertical upfield.

Good Separation Quickness. Very smooth and explosive out of breaks, barely losing speed. Good hip flexibility. Sinks hips well on deep comebacks and stop-and-go routes. Hits an extra gear come out of break to pull away from cornerbacks.

Rare Speed. Runs with long and efficient strides. Erases cushion from off coverage quickly. Easily gets separation deep. Stacks cornerbacks who play tight.

Good Ball Skills. Tracks and looks ball into hands. Attacks the ball in the air, often coming back to it to avoid pass breakups or interceptions by defensive backs. Catches with hands before bringing into body quickly. Doesn’t body catch unless needed to.

Solid/Good Yards After Catch. Stays in stride and gets upfield. Doesn’t dance around. Makes good use of separation speed by running good angles in space.

Great Ball Security. Shields ball with body away from defenders after the catch. No fumbles.

Great Competitive Intangibles. High character player. Improved route running in the short and intermediate areas. Suffered numerous concussions but still has desire to play. Displayed incredible mental and emotional toughness by playing in game only hours after his prematurely born son passed away due to complications.

Mental Processing. Still chooses to rely on his speed more than savvy when running routes, although he’s showing improvement. Not on same page with Jimmy Garoppolo on deep routes. Looks lost on running plays and other run blocking scenarios in the 2nd and 3rd levels.

Release. Needs better use of hands with fighting press coverage. Struggles against strength and physicality both at the line and at the top of route. Needs better overall pacing coming into his route stem.

Separation Quickness. Cuts/breaks at the top of his routes are too rounded and could be sharper, especially on deep ins, deep outs, posts, and corner routes.

Adequate/Solid Body Control. Small catch radius. Lacks ability to adjust to a poorly placed throw. Hasn’t shown feet coordination to make tight catches near the sideline.

Balls Skills. A few dropped passes on catchable balls.
Yards After Contact. Goes down quickly. Doesn’t fight through contact for extra yards. Doesn’t use lateral agility to elude defenders in space and is completely reliant on speed and angles to gain yards.

Adequate Run Blocker. Lacks strength and power when engaging with defensive backs.

Competitive Intangibles. Avoids contact by going to the ground or getting out of bounds, most likely to avoid any further concussions. Has dealt with numerous injuries so far in career.

Overall, Marquise Goodwin is a starting wide receiver you can win with. Although he has enough skill to line up as the X against press in certain situations, Goodwin is best used as the Z and Y where he can get a clean release and use his explosion and speed to get into his route. He can also be used in motion and on jet sweeps. His speed makes him dangerous on “gadget” plays, even as a decoy. His lack of strength and power will limit him against bigger and more physical defensive backs as well as in the running game. Despite his struggles early in his career, Goodwin took a huge step forward in 2017, showing he’s more than just a deep threat but an explosive weapon that can be used in all areas of the field. If him and Garoppolo can improve their deep ball chemistry, that will open up a lot not only for Goodwin’s game but for the whole 49ers offense.