The Associated PressSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon was watching his teammates from a hotel just days after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery when he saw quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s knee buckle.
McKinnon knew immediately what Garoppolo was enduring, having torn his own anterior cruciate ligament just three weeks earlier.
“When you have an injury like this, a season-ending injury, there’s emotion that comes with it at first,” McKinnon said Wednesday. “When I saw the play that ended his season, I already knew what he was going through. For me and him to have somebody to go through that experience with and not be alone and push each other along the way will definitely help.”
McKinnon reached out to Garoppolo as soon as the game in Kansas City ended on Sept. 23. McKinnon told him what his experience was like after getting hurt in practice on Sept. 1 and how he dealt with the pain and stiffness following surgery.
Garoppolo had his surgery Wednesday to repair his left knee. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he didn’t know whether any additional damage needed to be repaired or whether Garoppolo would be recovered in time for the offseason program next spring. But he will have a partner in rehabilitation in McKinnon.
“Jimmy’s a warrior,” McKinnon said. “I’m pretty sure that he has the same mind-set I had in the whole situation and recovery process. The only thing we can do is push each other through these next nine months.”
Garoppolo and McKinnon were being counted on to lead San Francisco’s offense after Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract in the offseason and McKinnon joined the Niners as a free agent with a four-year, $30 million deal.
But McKinnon got hurt a week before the season opener and Garoppolo went down in Week 3, when he tried to plant and cut up field in a loss to the Chiefs.
Those injuries dealt a major blow to the 49ers (1-3), who are now going with C.J. Beathard at quarterback and Matt Breida at running back.
Burfict back for Bengals
CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis knew that linebacker Vontaze Burfict was back when he felt his feet leave the floor.
Burfict, who has been suspended repeatedly in his career, rejoined the team after completing a four-game ban for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers. He made quite an entrance.
“When he came up from behind and picked me up off the floor on Monday, I knew it could only be one person,” Lewis said. “I guess it’s time to wrestle with the bear again.”