The San Francisco 49ers have boasted top-of-the-line operating items within the NFL practically yearly since Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach in 2017. Over the previous 4 seasons, the 49ers have ranked among the many prime 15 in speeding makes an attempt and speeding yards, and so they’ve positioned within the prime seven in each classes in each seasons, San Francisco has made lengthy playoffs (2019 and 2021).
And till they commerce for Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers had achieved all of their speeding successes with a comparatively unknown expertise. The workforce’s prime three operating backs over the previous 5 seasons had been: Carlos Hyde (a Jim Harbaugh-era veteran), 2021 sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell and three undrafted free brokers in Rahim Mostert, matt breida and Jeff Wilson Jr.
Whereas all are stable gamers, this group is not precisely a dynamic game-changer.
The 49ers have tried — and failed — to search out their operating backs of the long run within the draft and in free company. They’ve handed 4 picks for the job since 2017 to Mitchell, Tyrion Davis-Value, Sermon Trey and Joe Williams. Solely Mitchell has seen many pictures. San Francisco additionally signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million deal in 2018 and Tevin Coleman in 2019 on a two-year, $10 million deal. Neither was profitable, though that was principally attributable to accidents.
Now, lastly, Shanahan has his man in McCaffrey. It got here at a value — second-, third-, and fourth-round draft picks in 2023 and a fifth-round decide in 2024 — however the deal offers the 49ers maybe their most dynamic operating again ever.
Earlier than we even dive into the schematics, McCaffrey will be part of arguably the NFL’s most versatile talent set. broad receiver Deebo Samuel is without doubt one of the finest runners with the ball. tight finish George Kittle is a blocking phenomenon that may beat linebackers on passing routes. Recipient Brandon Aïyuk proved his value as a playmaker. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk can run, block and catch out of the backfield.
Add McCaffrey to the combination and it is onerous to discover a gap within the 49ers offense exterior of Jimmy Garoppolowhich is a special argument for one more day.
McCaffrey might be wonderful in attacking Shanahan
With regards to model, that is the place issues get enjoyable. Shanahan’s much-vaunted offense makes use of a wide-area blocking system that successfully forces defenders to play laterally whereas the offensive line opens up visitors lanes the place the offense needs. McCaffrey is ideal for this as he could make performs out and in of tackles and alter on the fly. Just look at his rushed charts over the years.
Its velocity is sudden. McCaffrey is a house hitter virtually each time he touches the ball. He has the second most video games with a run or catch of at the very least 50 yards since 2017, in response to Panthers.comand the third most yards per touch since 2017 at 5.78 yards. McCaffrey has additionally led the NFL with 113.6 scrimmage yards per sport since 2017.
McCaffrey’s propensity for catching passes offers him one thing Shanahan’s offense has additionally sorely lacked. The one operating again for the 49ers with 50+ receptions in a season throughout Shanahan’s tenure was Hyde in 2017. Juszczyk, the fullback, additionally managed operating backs for the 49ers thrice throughout that span, however he by no means completed with greater than 33 in a season. McCaffrey, in the meantime, is averaging six receptions for 51.4 yards per sport – who have both led the NFL since 2017 – and caught at the very least 80 balls in seasons he performed a full slate of video games.
These expertise ought to create sport nightmares for the 49ers, as they will additionally use McCaffrey of their two-man units (21). San Francisco has led the league on this group in three of the previous 4 seasons, according to Sharp Football Analysis, and was second to the New England Patriots in 2020. On this roster, McCaffrey could possibly be a runner, receiver, blocker, or a mixture of all of them in any given sport. It is extremely tough for a protection to plan in opposition to.
McCaffrey ought to eat into this offense and provides the 49ers a weapon they by no means had through the Shanahan period. Samuel’s function as a pseudo-runner in 2021 was most likely the closest San Francisco needed to McCaffrey, and it helped the workforce qualify for an NFC Championship Sport and on the cusp of one other. Tremendous Bowl look. Now they’ve somebody taking part in that function full time.
The knocks in opposition to this transfer are three-fold: McCaffrey’s damage historical past, the contract that got here with it, and what San Francisco gave away to Carolina.
McCaffrey has solely performed 10 video games from 2020 to 2021 having by no means missed a sport in his profession. It is going to value at the very least $11.8 million from the 2023 to 2025 cap, per above the ceiling. The 49ers additionally gave up the equal of the fourth general decide, according to PFFfor a 26-year-old operating again with greater than 1,200 profession contacts.
It may explode within the faces of Shanahan and normal supervisor John Lynch, particularly given the large questions surrounding their determination to commerce for the quarterback. Trey Lance final yr and his present damage scenario. McCaffrey will not be a lock to play a full season and the workforce could not be capable to afford to maintain a few of their finest performs within the coming years or discover expertise within the draft after spending a lot on him.
However after failing to return to the Tremendous Bowl two years after their magic run in 2019, it was the choice the 49ers needed to make to provide them the sting over the remainder of their division, their convention and the NFL. McCaffrey is without doubt one of the really particular abilities within the league, and Shanahan will certainly know how one can use it correctly to create a dominant offense given McCaffrey’s talent set.