The 49ers have had a plan for Christian McCaffrey since the beginning of OTAs. McCaffrey was almost on the Brock Purdy plan, where he wouldn’t practice for successive days in a row. The hope is to keep CMC as fresh as possible. There’s no need to add unnecessary mileage to your star player during the summer months.
The Niners want McCaffrey at his best in the winter months. That’s when they acquired the former Carolina Panthers running back a year ago. At the time, there was some push back to the trade. The internet hates the idea of a running back holding any sort of value, even if they are the caliber of McCaffrey.
Kyle Shanahan recalled his feelings leading up to the trade, claiming that he was even a bit hesitant at first:
“You’re always hesitant just because there’s risks in everything. You know how good of a player he is and when you have an opportunity to get a player like that, you want to look into all of it, not just the player, but how it fits to the whole contract of your whole salary cap and everything.
You’ve got to look at what it means by giving up those picks, and you don’t worry at all about it in terms of how good he is and stuff and things like that. But, there’s also luck to it. You’ve got to stay healthy, things got to go. So, it’s always a risk.
You look back at it last year, it’s thank God. How could you even hesitate on anything? It’s a no brainer. But, you never know the future of it. But, when you have a chance to get a guy like him the way he looked on tape, we didn’t know him that well.
People act like I knew him before, but I knew more his parents. And having him since then, not just how he’s been on the field and in practice, but understanding the person, feels so good of what we gave up to get him and knowing that he is a 49er.”
There’s always a worry about injuries, but that’s the case with anybody in such a violent sport. Many feared that Trent Williams’s injuries would lead to the 49ers “losing” the trade, but when you look at who those picks turned out to be, Williams would have to miss a lot more than a few games for the Niners to regret trading for an All-Pro.
If you’re keeping tabs on the players drafted with the picks Carolina received for McCaffrey, it was tight ends Brenton Strange and Darnell Washington, and edge rusher Nick Herbig. The Panthers still have a 2024 fifth-round selection that was part of the deal.
I equate the McCaffrey trade to Williams. Christian would have to miss significant time, which is why the Niners are playing it careful in the offseason. Shanahan understands McCaffrey’s importance to this offense. And judging by how he speaks about McCaffrey to this day, he couldn’t be happier with the decision to pull the trigger on the trade.