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Analysts discuss how Christian McCaffrey transforms how defenders see 49ers

Domonique Foxworth explained how adding Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers makes defenders miserable.

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 49ers acquisition of running back Christian McCaffrey already paid dividends in the team’s 31-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. While the Niners traded four future picks, including a second, third, and fourth-rounder in the 2023 draft, McCafrey has the potential to take San Francisco’s offense to another level. On Tuesday’s episode of The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny, former NFL cornerback turned NFL analyst Domonique Foxworth was asked about how the combination of McCaffrey and wide receiver Deebo Samuel impacts the mind of a defender.

“Before you even come out of the huddle, it’s freaky because you’re like ‘where am I going to line up?” Foxworth said. “Deebo may be in the backfield. Deebo may be split out. Christian may be in the backfield. Christian may be split out. They both may be in the backfield. They both may be split out.”

Kimes referred to the Niners versatile group of skill-position players as “positionless football.” The way so many 49ers players are interchangeable gives head coach Kyle Shanahan the opportunity to devise countless opportunities to create mismatches.

“Before you break the huddle, you hear the personnel group and that narrows down your responsibilities,” Foxworth explained. “You hear your play. You hear their personnel group and you’re like alright, ‘I got these three potential things.’ Then you go out there and they line up, and you’re like ‘I got these two potential things.’ Then they shift because they love to shift and motion and you’re like ‘Oh sh*t! I got to go back and add another thing back in and think about it.’ That’s the mental gymnastics before you even snap the ball.”

Kimes and Foxworth were also highly complimentary of 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

“Just want to throw in one quick thing about DeMeco Ryans,” Kimes said. “What I loved in this game, something we saw in the playoffs last year, he’s so good at dialing up the blitz at the right time. Like in the first half, Matt Stafford was pretty unpressured. Second half, he doubled the blitz rate, all different kinds of blitzes... it was really smart. He’s so good at making adjustments.”