McCaffrey trade continues to power 49ers' success
When the San Francisco 49ers acquired running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers in the fall of 2022, they knew they were getting a dynamic player that would help them improve in both the running and passing game.
What they did not know was that they were getting a player that would completely change the outlook of their offensive attack and raise the ceiling on their championship potential.
On October 20, 2022, the 49ers sent 2023 second, third and fourth-round picks and a fifth-rounder in 2024 to the Panthers to acquire the back.
Amid questions of the high price the 49ers paid to acquire a player at his position, McCaffrey debuted for the 49ers against their Super Bowl LVIII opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, in Week 7 of 2022.
The 27-year-old showed flashes of what he was capable of providing San Francisco in his first outing, though they were routed 44-23. It was his second performance that opened everyone’s eyes to where this trade could lead the 49ers.
McCaffrey rushed the ball 18 times for 94 yards and a touchdown, caught eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown and completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk, as the 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Rams 31-14, in a full display of his capabilities.
"I was fired up," McCaffrey said after his do-it-all performance. "BA made a great play. That's a tough catch having to turn like that. I was super happy when he caught it because that was a tough catch. He made me look good, so I was fired up for it."
San Francisco 49ers
The victory over the Rams was the beginning of a 10-game winning streak to end the regular season that would see the 49ers capture the NFC West and earn the No. 2 seed in the conference heading into the playoffs.
For his part, McCaffrey finished the regular season with 746 rushing yards and six scores on the ground and 464 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions in 11 games in San Francisco.
They would ultimately come up short in the NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles after a series of injuries at the quarterback position during the game left them shorthanded.
The Castle Rock, Colo., native paid even bigger dividends in his second season in red and gold.
Having already scored in nine consecutive games, including playoffs, entering the season, McCaffrey would find the end zone in the first eight games of the campaign to equal the NFL record of 17 straight games with a touchdown, also held by Hall of Famer Lenny Moore, who accomplished the feat in 1963-64.
McCaffrey would finish his second season on the 49ers leading the league with 1,459 yards rushing and 21 total touchdowns as the team earned home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a bye through the first round.
Proving that he becomes even better when the games get more important, McCaffrey scored two touchdowns in the 49ers’ Division Round victory over the Green Bay Packers and two more majors in their 34-31 comeback win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC title game.
Acquiring the dynamic back seems like a no-brainer now, so much so that head coach Kyle Shanahan did not want to even entertain the idea of what the team would be like if they hadn’t sent the picks to Carolina, when he was asked about it earlier in the season.
“No, don’t ever say that,” Shanahan said.
McCaffrey is the only non-quarterback among the five finalists for the Most Valuable Player award and is the odds-on favourite to be named Offensive Player of the Year.
The 49ers are happy they made that deal.