49ers Christian McCaffrey suffers ‘mild’ calf strain, will miss Week 18

Jan 1, 2024, 2:52 PM | Updated: 2:53 pm

Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball during the second half of a g...

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

After locking up the No.1 seed in the NFC Week 17, the 49ers are feeling extra grateful that Christian McCaffrey only suffered a minor injury.

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan revealed that the team’s star running back suffered a “mild” calf strain Sunday against the Washington Commanders. While the injury is considered short-term, the Red & Gold have already ruled him out for Week 18 against the Los Angeles Rams.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of the contest, with McCaffrey getting worked on throughout the afternoon. The 49ers elected to go with backup RB Elijah Mitchell for the remainder of the game. Mitchell finished with 17 carries for 80 yards Sunday, controlling a three-score lead for San Francisco.

And after clinching a first-round bye in the postseason, the 49ers feel fortunate that their star will have three weeks to recover from his injury.

“We’re real confident on that. It was good news. It could have been a lot worse,” Shanahan said Monday. “We’re happy that they’ll take care of him this week and hopefully he’ll start getting to go during our off week.”

Christian McCaffrey, 27, has been arguably an MVP candidate this season, passing 2,000 scrimmage yards in the contest. The Stanford alum has been a pillar of the 49ers’ offense since he was traded from Carolina last season. He is currently the leading rusher in the NFL at 1,459 yards, and will likely end his 2023 regular-season campaign with the title. CMC also has 21 touchdowns.

The running back himself was itching to get back into Week 17’s game, instead choosing to take a long-term approach with his injury.

“I think it was minor and just made the smart move, especially not knowing what was going to happen next week. I didn’t just want to go in there and make it any worse. With certain things you can’t be dumb about it,” Christian McCaffrey said postgame.

Additionally, the 49ers will likely rest a number of starters for Week 18. That includes defensive tackle Arik Armstead, cornerback Ambry Thomas and wide receiver Jauan Jennings. All three men have lingering injuries from the past few weeks, with Armstead being the biggest absence. But with three weeks before another meaningful game, San Francisco will look to be as fresh as can be for a postseason run.

Likely joining Christian McCaffrey and others on the 49ers sidelines is safety Ji’Ayir Brown, still nursing a knee sprain. Tight end Ross Dwelley (ankle) is also unlikely to return Week 18.

The 49ers have not made a determination on quarterback Brock Purdy yet, waiting until later in the week to see if he’ll start in the regular-season finale.

Upcoming San Francisco 49ers Schedule

  • Sunday, Jan. 7th vs. Los Angeles Rams – TBD
  • NFL Playoffs (TBD)

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