CA’s SANTA CLARA Word of the San Francisco 49ers’ trade for star running back Christian McCaffrey had already circulated throughout the locker room by the time the players convened for a Friday morning meeting.
This helps provide some light on why coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t bring it up until the meeting’s last seconds. Shanahan made reference to the year 2019 when the 6-0 San Francisco 49ers boosted their chances of winning the Super Bowl by trading for receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Although the Niners are aware of their current 3-3 record, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch reiterated this point to the club on Friday.
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk explained that, in his and John’s eyes, the team is so prepared for victory at this point that they are willing to risk everything for the chance to seize it. To paraphrase, “We feel like we can accomplish some very amazing things, so why not add that weapon to what we feel like we’ve already got” rather than “We had to have someone at that position.”
The trade between the Niners and Panthers was finalized early Friday morning, with San Francisco sending three draught choices to Carolina in exchange for McCaffrey (2023 second, fourth, and fifth rounds).
McCaffrey and some internal upgrades are being counted on to help the 49ers finally win a Super Bowl after falling short in 2019 and 2021 in their search for a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
You can only accomplish this if you have faith in your team’s current makeup, as Lynch put it. We know we have our work cut out for us, and we know this isn’t a quick fix for everything wrong with our team. We’ve got to all improve, but we’re still confident in this group; that’s why we went after a top-tier football player.
On Friday morning, Christian McCaffrey landed in the Bay Area and immediately began participating in the team’s routine. After passing his physical, he came on the field for the remainder of the light Friday practice, complete with locker and helmet, but without participating in any team drills.
Lynch says that McCaffrey is already trying to get on the field for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, even though it’s not yet apparent if he will play. McCaffrey has stated that the team will make the call on whether or not he plays, with Shanahan adding that McCaffrey’s standing has more to do with whether he can rapidly grasp enough of the playbook to contribute than with how he is physical.
Andy Reid, head coach of the Chiefs, has declared that his team will get ready to face McCaffrey.
We all recognize his brilliance. If they need him, they’ll find a way to fit him in,” Reid said. We’ve been preparing for that. You focus on his strengths, and Kyle will put him to work in his areas of expertise.
McCaffrey, who was injured in 23 games over the course of the previous two seasons, reported feeling well. McCaffrey’s father, Ed, played for the Denver Broncos for nine years under Shanahan’s father, Mike. McCaffrey is clearly ecstatic about joining a team that plays its home games just fifteen minutes from where he went to college at Stanford and is coached by Shanahan, whose father, Mike, coached McCaffrey’s father, Ed, for nine seasons.
McCaffrey admitted, “I’ve certainly watched them for a long time.” The team has one of the league’s most potent attacks and, in my opinion, the best running game. To be honest, when I look down the roster at all the guys, that’s what gets me the most psyched. Having never been in the locker room before, I’m looking forward to finally meeting the other guys. But as an offensive weapon, this is surely a place you would want to play. I’m pumped to the gills.
The Niners are happy that McCaffrey will be playing for them instead of the other team next week in Los Angeles, regardless of whether his debut is this coming Sunday or in Week 8 against the Rams.
The Rams, who won the Super Bowl last season by dealing with high-profile players, were the Niners’ main competition in the pursuit of McCaffrey. San Francisco’s eagerness to complete transactions like these quickly increased as a result.
Obviously, that wasn’t the primary motivation for the Niners to get McCaffrey in the deal, but it certainly helped.
According to Shanahan, “it’s absolutely a perk.” Having a guy like Christian available would be a dream come true for any team. So, I believe everyone investigates it, and it’s nice to keep a strong player away from the side we battle against year after year.
Although it came at a high price, the agreement was ultimately finalized, thanks to the efforts of the Niners. According to Lynch, the pieces of the deal started falling into place during the team’s week of training in West Virginia the week before.
McCaffrey’s salary cap number for the 49ers will be a little under $700,000 for the rest of this season, but it will increase to $12 million for the next three years. Even for a running back of McCaffrey’s caliber, that’s a substantial contract.
Since McCaffrey’s current contract does not include any totally guaranteed money beyond this year, a new agreement may be in the works. Both Shanahan and Lynch have stated publicly that they intend to keep McCaffrey on the 49ers roster beyond the current campaign.
Not everyone gets a guy like Christian,” Lynch remarked. And that’s basically where we captured him. However, his contract will continue to run for several more years after that. We’re taking it one step at a time, but it’s helpful to know that the guy isn’t just a rental for the playoffs after this year.
Since head coach Kyle Shanahan was an early and vocal advocate for the Stanford product in the 2017 NFL draught, San Francisco has kept a close eye on McCaffrey. McCaffrey’s Stanford teammate and eventual No. 3 overall choice were defensive tackle Solomon Thomas.
On Friday, Shanahan said the Niners weren’t even close to selecting McCaffrey with that choice (though he may have been in the play had the team moved down more) and that he and Lynch had joked with the running back that they were waiting until everything was in place before acquiring him.
Shanahan joked, “The first thing I told Christian was that this was our plan all along.” And that’s why we wanted to start constructing our defensive line and other defensive units right away so that by the time we got him five and a half years later, we’d be ready.