The 49ers' dominant 35-17 victory over the Panthers was so impressive that Carolina fired head coach Matt Rhule the following day and has led to speculation about potentially trading running back Christian McCaffrey. NBC Sports NFL insider Peter King joined Damon Bruce and Larry Krueger on Damon & Ratto earlier this week on 95.7 The Game to discuss the possibility of a deal.
“I would mostly listen when the subject of Christian McCaffrey comes up,” King said when asked which players he would consider trading if he were the Panthers' general manager. “He’s been good but not great. So, I think the question becomes if you can dump Christian McCaffrey’s contract and someone wants Christian McCaffrey and will give you, say, a 2 and 4 next year, I’d take it.”
On the surface, McCaffrey would seem like the perfect trade target for the 49ers. Given the team’s injuries at running back, McCaffrey would immediately become the Niners' top option in the backfield and would easily be the best receiving back the team has had under head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The 49ers actually have some extra connections to McCaffrey. The Shanahan and McCaffrey families go way back, with the 49ers' current head coach drawing his inspiration as a player from Christian’s father, Ed, who played for Mike Shanahan in Denver. In fact, Kyle actually babysat the Panthers' running back while he was growing up in Denver.
King was asked if he would go after McCaffrey if he were the 49ers. “I mean, I wouldn’t if I were them,” he said. “The only way I would do it is if it didn’t cost very much.”
McCaffrey has appeared in all five Panthers games this season. He has amassed 324 rushing yards on 72 carries with 188 receiving yards over 26 receptions and three total touchdowns. Injuries have limited him to just 15 games over the past three seasons, but when he’s played, he’s racked up nearly 1,700 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns over that span. The best year of his career, though, came in 2019 when he led the league with 2,392 yards from scrimmage (1,387 rushing and 1,005 receiving) and 19 total touchdowns.
McCaffrey is in the middle of a long-term contract, but his deal only pays him the NFL minimum base salary this season. According to OverTheCap, more than $7.5 million of McCaffrey’s $8.78575 cap hit this season is due to a prorated bonus that the Panthers will be responsible for whether they trade him or not. Furthermore, his roughly $12 million base salary over the next three seasons is not guaranteed, meaning San Francisco could release him this offseason without incurring any dead money.
So, what do you think about the 49ers making a run at acquiring Christian McCaffrey? Do you agree with King that the team should avoid making a deal? Or do you think he’s just what the offense needs to take another step forward? The Niners may not have their first-round pick this season, but they have all of their selections from rounds 2-5, including a pair of compensatory third-round picks to deal. What package would you be willing to offer for the Panthers' top running back?
Let us know in the comments below.