The acquisition of running back Christian McCaffrey by the San Francisco 49ers was an all-out effort to right a ship that had almost capsized. That’s primarily because of a long list of injury problems and a struggling offence. The 49ers’ general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan believe their team has the talent to win the Super Bowl in 2022. They hope that McCaffrey will help the team get over the finish line. We’ll try to examine three justifications for why the 49ers are now NFC favourites thanks to the Christian McCaffrey trade.
The 49ers offensive has been at best mediocre in 2022, in contrast to their excellent defence. Both their rushing yards (744) and yards per carry (4.4) are currently in the top half of the league, but neither number stands out. They also scored one running touchdown per game, for a total of six.
Remember that without running back Elijah Mitchell due to an MCL strain, their run game has faltered. They bet on McCaffrey before Week 7 rather than waiting for Mitchell to come back after the Week 9 bye. It’s a brave move, but we can’t criticise San Francisco’s front office for acting rather than just sitting back and enjoying their success.
Going all-in on CMC required the 49ers, who don’t have a first-round pick in 2023, to forfeit their 2023 second-round, 2023 third-round, 2023 fourth-round, and 2024 fifth-round picks. With McCaffrey’s history of injuries, that kind of draught compensation has definitely sparked controversy. On the other side, his potential influence over their offence might have advantages that make the risk worthwhile.
Christian McCaffrey through 6 seasons in Carolina.
866 carries for 3,980 yards.
390 catches for 3,292 yards.
1 Pro Bowl.
He s now a member of the 49ers. pic.twitter.com/mt4Ihzl7aT
— NFL Muse. (@NFL_Muse) October 21, 2022
Here are our three main arguments for why the 49ers are now NFC favourites because to the Christian McCaffrey trade.
3. McCaffrey is a dual-threat RB
Christian McCaffrey, according to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, has the potential to be a dual-threat back. Shanahan probably views CMC as a running back who can assist hide and even enhance the inventiveness (i.e. deception) that the 49ers occasionally rely on.
McCaffrey might, for instance, leave an I-formation and swiftly change to a five-wide stance. Therefore, it is possible for CMC, fullback Kyle Juszcyzk, and tight end George Kittle to get loose and find openings in man coverage.
Even with just that level of adaptability, CMC significantly benefits this team. Remember that he is just one of three NFL players to rack up 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same calendar year. McCaffrey averages 4.6 yards per carry during his career, but he can also frighten defenders as a pass receiver. Consider McCaffrey to be Deebo Samuel’s opposite. CMC can act as a “running receiver,” whereas Samuel is a “wide back.” Possibly pushing it, but you get the idea.
2. McCaffrey enhances one of the 49ers’ strengths
The 49ers will likely bet more this season and possibly the following two thanks to their choice to sign Christian McCaffrey. It also gives the team the chance to improve a skill set in which they now outperform most NFL teams.
Remember that the offensive line for the 49ers is quite strong. They have an offensive line that can consistently produce effective downhill blocks for every position. They may be in a better position than any other offensive line in the NFL to win at the snap. This crew has already done a great job at making men like Raheem Mostert, Matt Brieda, Jeff Wilson Jr., and Elijah Mitchell seem good, as evidence.
With someone like CMC, what more can they accomplish if they can do that? Remember that McCaffrey was averaging nearly a career-high (4.6 yards per rush) while playing for one of the worst offenses in football this year in Carolina. Thanks to McCaffrey, an offensive line that already looks terrific will look even better.
1. Christian McCaffrey adds enough depth to push the 49ers ahead in the NFC West
In the NFC West, the 49ers have a huge chance before them.
The Los Angeles Rams have recently won the Super Bowl. They haven’t played anything like reigning champions should, as seen by their 3-3 record. In contrast, the Arizona Cardinals are now 3-4. Additionally, the Seattle Seahawks are 3-3 after dealing Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. Their division is wide open and ripe for the taking. The 49ers are also right at the top of it at 3-3 despite dealing with a slew of injuries.
Yes, it’s a bummer that young QB Trey Lance is out for the season. However, the 49ers still have a somewhat reliable passer in Jimmy Garopoolo. That’s on top of a number of other elite players. Keep in mind as well that after reaching the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game in the previous three seasons, this might pave the way for another long playoff run. Someone like McCaffrey offers them an explosive weapon to pair with Samuel and Kittle.
The fact is that in his position, there just aren’t many better than McCaffrey. He already has 393 running yards, 277 receiving yards, and three total touchdowns in six games for a Panthers squad that has slogged to a 1-5 record.
Opposing defenses concentrated heavily on him in Carolina, but now they must contend with Kittle, Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and others in San Francisco. That gives CMC much more room to do damage. He may not lead the entire league in rushing yards anytime soon, but McCaffrey gives this team enough depth for them to exploit the opportunities in front of them in the NFC.
Interestingly enough, McCaffrey’s father, Ed, was a wide receiver in Mike Shanahan’s Super Bowl-winning offense for the Broncos. We feel that’s a sign from the football gods that CMC was fated to be sent to San Francisco and help activate this offense.
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