Christian McCaffrey and his impact on the 49ers’ run game

Jan 27, 2023, 5:30 AM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 5:35 pm
Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to a game against the Dallas Cowb...
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to a game against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Levi's Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Since arriving in the NFL in 2017, 49ers’ running back Christian McCaffrey has been unstoppable. Except when he’s off the field due to injury.

49ers’ McCaffrey’s Running Back Injury History

McCaffrey has battled injury after injury since making All-Pro honors in 2019, missing 23 games in a three-year span. Luckily, he’s been on the field much more for San Francisco, appearing in every single contest of the 2022 season.

Despite the renewed longevity, CMC has battled a variety of lower leg ailments in the final stretch of games this season. Now dealing with a bruised calf, McCaffrey has missed consecutive practices to start the week. But with an NFC Championship game looming, it doesn’t look likely he’ll be in street clothes Sunday

“Zero,” McCaffrey said bluntly Thursday about his chances of not playing this weekend.

McCaffrey’s Adjustment to Kyle Shanahan’s Offense

Head coach Kyle Shanahan shared a similar sentiment in his pressers this week as well, although the team has to be cautious with their star tailback.

“Same concern as I had yesterday,” Shanahan added.

Now that the question of “Will he play?” is out of the picture, it’s time to focus on his actual play this season.

Grasping a Kyle Shanahan offense midseason is a challenge in itself. Tasked with learning unique run concepts and plays, CMC has adjusted better each week he’s been in a 49er uniform. A reason for that is the preparation of the offensive line, fixated on the details similar to McCaffrey.

“They’re so talented and so detail-oriented and I think just understanding the purpose for every play is important. Where we want to go with ball and coaching points on each play, so I feel comfortable,” Christian McCaffrey said.

The Importance of Patience in the 49ers’ Run Game

The run game has been the bread-and-butter of the 49ers’ offense this season, averaging 139.7 YPG on the ground. And yet, some weeks they struggle to get it going early.

For example, last week against the Dallas Cowboys, no 49ers’ ballcarrier averaged four yards a carry. The unit finished with 113 rushing yards by the end, reminding them that ground game is a process and takes patience.

Just trust in patience,” McCaffrey stated. You never know which one is going to be the one to pop. And you never know when the rhythm [of the game] is going to start. So it’s just trust and patience.”

The 49ers as a whole will need to be patient Sunday in Philadelphia, taking on the 1-seed Eagles at their home field.

McCaffrey’s Postseason Experience and Execution

Christian McCaffrey hasn’t played in the postseason much, entering the fourth playoff contest of his career Sunday. Regardless, he knows that just like in the regular season, each play comes down to execution by the team.

“So for us, it’ll be about us and executing and making sure we take care of everything we need to take care of, each and every play and eliminate mistakes,” CMC explained.

McCaffrey’s Legacy as a 49er and Father’s Influence

Always locked in, Christian’s dad, Ed, was a 49er back in the day too. Playing in the Bay for a lone season in 1994, Christian has used his father’s wisdom to help mold him into the player he is today. That’s why he’s so serious about the game of football, because it comes down to execution and doing your job on each play, just like his dad taught him.

“I treat every game like a big game, this whole team does. Every day is very intentionally sound on perfecting your craft and getting better. Just to keep doing what you’re doing and execute at a high level. Take it one play at a time and execute that play. I say the word ‘execute’ a lot because it’s really what it comes down to, just making sure that every single play you’re doing your job,” McCaffrey said.

Why is Christan McCaffrey a key player for the 49ers? 

Christian McCaffrey is a key player for the 49ers due to his versatility and productivity as a running back. He is a dual-threat player who can run, catch and score touchdowns, making him a valuable asset to the team’s offensive attack. 

Why was McCaffrey out last season? 

Christian McCaffrey missed most of the 2021 NFL season due to injury. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve, missing the majority of the season. 

Who did Christian McCaffrey play for before the 49ers? 

Carolina Panthers (2017-2022) 

San Francisco 49ers (2022-present) 


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