HBO's "Hard Knocks" saved one of its biggest behind-the-scenes reveals for the final minutes of its last episode, showing that rookie running back Jeremy McNichols, who was waived by the Bucs after struggling in preseason, had an offer to join Tampa Bay's practice squad and chose instead to accept the same offer from the 49ers.
It played out for the NFL Films cameras on Tuesday's episode of "Hard Knocks," first as coach Dirk Koetter told McNichols he was being cut, but that the team wanted him to come back on the practice squad.
"This is one I've been looking forward to the leasts. I didn't see this coming," Koetter told him in his office on the show. "All along, I had you penciled in as making it. You're good enough to play in the NFL, but something's just not clicking right now ... I know you can do it. We want to keep working with you. We want you here playing on the practice squad."
Koetter asked McNichols if he wanted to come back or "get the hell out of here," and McNichols said "I want to come back. I think this is a good spot for me. I like the culture. I like you guys."
But the next day, when he came to One Buc Place, but with news that he was signing instead to the 49ers' practice squad, cleaning out his locker to leave.
"I was hoping you had a chance to develop in our system and eventually get on the field," Bucs director of football operations Shelton Quarles told McNichols.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht was shown relaying the news by phone to Koetter, saying "McNichols got his feelings hurt. If he's going to mope and complain about taken out of the game when he just made one mistake, we don't want that kind of (stuff) anyway."
McNichols, interviewed by "Hard Knocks" in the Bucs' parking lot as he left, said "I decided to go the Niners. I just think it would be a new start. I've got a chip on my shoulder, so the only way to go is up."