clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What the Christian McCaffrey deal tells us about the 49ers

The Niners acquired the Panthers running back in exchange for multiple 2023 draft picks

Everything happening with the team that you need to know in around five minutes

No one knows how to dominate a news cycle like the 49ers. Just when you think things with this team might settle down, they go and trade for Christian McCaffrey - and totally redeem themselves! What does this move tell us about what the 49ers saw when they looked in the mirror?

Let’s start with the most obvious observation - they knew the offense needed a shot in the arm. A team with this many star players shouldn’t be struggling to score 20 points a game, yet there they were in Atlanta, slogging away at glacial speed as the minutes ticked off the clock in an eventual 28-14 loss. In reality, Kyle Shanahan and company probably knew there were issues well before that.

During the Monday Night Football game against the Rams, Troy Aikman made a very telling comment that got lost in the shuffle because it came literally seconds before Deebo Samuel did the damn thing. Here’s what Aikman said:

“There is a part of Kyle Shanahan - they brought up Tevin Coleman, a guy who’s got a history with the 49ers and with Kyle Shanahan going back to Atlanta. Kyle is a little unsure just whether or not he really has the horses at running back to play the style of football that he’d really like to be able to play right now.”

Starting with that Rams game, the 49ers have averaged just 4.34 yards per carry, and most of that comes from their 153 yard performance against Christian McCaffrey’s former team, the Carolina Panthers. How do you fix that? Trade for a guy who is averaging 5.7 yards per touch this season - third most among all qualifying running backs.

The other thing this move tells us is that the other running backs on the roster haven’t impressed anyone. You don’t trade all that draft capital for a running back if you have any confidence in the guy you just took in the third round six months ago in Ty Davis-Price, or the undrafted free agent that made your team out of training camp in Jordan Mason. For whatever reason, this front office has not been able to hit on running backs taken in the first half of the draft, so they apparently just decided to avoid that problem completely and trade those picks for an established veteran at that position.

One last thing we can take away from this trade? Kyle Shanahan was tired of seeing his buddy Sean McVay make the splashy in-season addition. Kyle was not going to lose out on another player he wanted.

For the first time in the Sean McVay era, there appear to be real issues with his team. With one victory over LA in his pocket already, Kyle Shanahan simultaneously prevented the Rams from stabilizing their team and acquired a weapon that may help him deliver the knockout blow in a little over two weeks.

We won’t know for a long time whether Christian McCaffrey will be worth it, or if the 49ers gave up too much to get him in the first place. For right now, we do know one inescapable thing.

This team is never boring, and it’s awesome.

Hear more about this and other stories in today’s 49ers in Five podcast. Our five-minute daily update gives you the latest news, best audio clips, and everything else you need to know about the team. Subscribe to the Niners Nation Podcast Network today, so you don’t miss an episode!