49ers strike big by adding Christian McCaffrey via trade with Panthers

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The 49ers were looking for a spark to their offense, and they found it, trading for superstar running back Christian McCaffrey.

The San Francisco 49ers offense has scuffled this season, with their once-potent running game struggling to consistently propel the team like in years past.

Well, the Niners decided to attack that and then some, adding All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey to their offense in a trade ahead of the deadline with the Carolina Panthers, per Adam Schefter and other national reports:

How Christian McCaffrey helps 49ers

McCaffrey is one of the few running backs in the league who is legitimately a game-changer, capable of breaking off big plays on the ground and in the air. In his last healthy season, he had a rare 1,000-1,000 year, tallying a thousand yards on the ground and in the air and becoming only the third player in NFL history to do so, joining Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and one 49ers legend, Roger Craig.

This isn’t just another running back. This is a player capable of completely changing the game and is a mismatch at almost every level. His versatility to run routes both split wide and in the backfield creates matchup problems everywhere, the same way wide receiver Deebo Samuel‘s ability to run the ball does the same.

For a head coach all about disguising looks and attacking defenses with unique personnel, McCaffrey is the greatest Christmas gift Kyle Shanahan could ask for.

Beyond all that, though, he’s an elite running back who’ll fit right into the 49ers’ scheme, offering an explosive element to an offense that is looking for one.

The risks with 49ers’ move for Christian McCaffrey

The Niners gave up a second-, third-, and a fourth-round pick in 2023, along with a fifth-round pick in 2024 for McCaffrey.

That’s a considerable package for a player, who despite his undeniable talent, plays a position that is not as “valuable.”

It leaves San Francisco with only four picks in the 2023 draft: two Round 3 picks, a fifth rounder and a Round 7 pick. It’s an aggressive move, but there’s a fair question of overspending, especially when there are other positions the 49ers could improve.

The other risk is that of injuries.

McCaffrey’s dealt with many health issues, a common trend for San Francisco players. Spending this much capital for a player with a suspect injury history, regardless of his talent, is a big risk, especially for a team that is already dealing with injuries to almost every position.

That said, the 49ers were aggressive in trying to jumpstart their offense, and they’ve received one of the few players capable of actually changing the dimensions of their team. Now it’s time to see if it’ll work out. No matter what, it’ll be fun to watch.

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