To say it’s a struggle for a defense to tackle 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey is putting it lightly. It’s a situation where the eye test matches the numbers. McCaffrey, the league's leading rusher, has 357 yards after contact. McCaffrey’s yards after contact would be the tenth-most rushing yards in the NFL.
CMC has also forced the second most missed tackles in the NFL. So, unsurprisingly, opponents are flailing at CMC in an attempt to bring him down, and it leaves them in awkward positions as No. 23 zooms past them.
On Monday, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was asked if he’s seen anything out of the ordinary with the way teams are tackling McCaffrey, and if it’s something that the team believes that opponents are targeting McCaffrey. Here’s Shanahan’s answer:
“No, I don’t think they’re trying to do it. I don’t think teams are trying to hit him in the helmet or trying to facemask him. I think people are desperate on how to bring him down.
You look at the tackle versus Arizona, if that guy didn’t do all that stuff, Christian was walking in for a touchdown or carrying him in for a touchdown. When you run that hard, guys do whatever they can to get a guy down, and sometimes they grab onto the facemask.
The helmet to helmets, those are tight windows. Christian runs really good routes and our quarterback’s putting it in tight areas and those guys are committed to trying to stop it. And when that happens, it’s really hard to do without doing that. So when you’ve got such a really great player like Christian who’s fearless, guys are doing everything they can to try to stop him and sometimes when they do that, they get penalties for it.”
I agree with Shanahan. You can tell by the position these players are in when they’re attempting to tackle McCaffrey that it’s not intentional. As for the Cowboys, they came off as a team that lacked discipline and would commit those same personal fouls against anybody.