Jerick McKinnon cleared to return, could play in Super Bowl LVIII

After a groin injury sidelined one of the Chiefs' most underrated weapons, the running back that sealed the win in last year's Super Bowl looks to return against the 49ers next Sunday.

Jerick McKinnon took the ball into the endzone against the Bills earlier this season before a groin injury took him out of the playoff push.
Jerick McKinnon took the ball into the endzone against the Bills earlier this season before a groin injury took him out of the playoff push. / David Eulitt/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs may have recently lost a defensive superstar to a torn ACL in Charles Omenihu, but they received good news this weekend with the return of running back Jerick McKinnon who has been sidelined since the Chiefs' Week 15 victory over New England.

According to NFL reporter Ian Rapoport, the Chiefs have designated McKinnon to return from injured reserve, opening the window for him to practice and potentially rejoin the active roster. Typically a team would have a 21-day window during which to evaluate a player, but given that there is only one game left on the NFL schedule, those rules no longer matter.

Last season was the best receiving year of McKinnon's career, which included a stop in San Francisco back in 2020, when he led the league in receiving touchdowns by a running back with nine—six of which came in consecutive games to end the year.

McKinnon also became the first running back since 1970 to record a touchdown reception in five straight games and the first ever to do so in six straight to end the 2022 season. His talent was definitely on display heading into last year's playoffs and the highlight of his season came when he took the final run of Super Bowl LVII, sliding down at the one-yard line to essentially ice the game and bring Kansas City the Lombardi trophy for the third time in franchise history.

McKinnon has had a down year, to say the least, after being brought back on a one-year deal during the past offseason. Not only has a groin injury persisted for most of the second half of this season, but the explosion of Chiefs' RB1 Isiah Pacheco after last year's dominant performances made it easier to sit McKinnon without such an obvious need for his production.

With that said, McKinnon still brings a dangerous piece to the already-stifling offense that Kansas City will put on the field in Las Vegas. He does so with his pass-catching ability, which has put him in the end zone four times in 12 games this year. And although McKinnon rarely rushes—only 21 times this year for 60 yards and one touchdown—it's his soft hands and ability to hold onto the ball that has made him one of Reid's favorites during critical moments in games.

Needless to say, McKinnon's presence on the field could be huge against his former team, especially since he will be testing free agency once again after the final whistle.