49ers trade for Christian McCaffrey, who wins or loses in a big way?

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /
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With All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey coming to the 49ers, who wind up being the biggest winners and losers from the blockbuster deal?

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had to be so frustrated with his lackluster rushing attack that he ultimately signed off on dishing out a massive chunk of NFL Draft capital to land arguably the best running back available leading up to the 2022 NFL trade deadline.

Now “former” Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

The move carries some risks. After already aggressively trading up to select quarterback Trey Lance in the 2021 draft, resulting in the Niners not having a Round 1 pick in 2023, what few picks they did have left are now heading Carolina’s way.

And McCaffrey, who has been banged up for the bulk of the last two seasons after his 2019 first-team All-Pro nod, doesn’t come as a rental player. No, he’s under contract through 2025 and will make up to almost $20 million in 2023.

At any rate, those are problems for another day, and Shanahan should feel a bit better about getting a fresh spark for what was otherwise an inconsistent and sometimes stagnant offense.

If Shanahan wins, who are the other winners and losers from the blockbuster transaction?

49ers winner: Christian McCaffrey

It’s about the best possible outcome for McCaffrey, and he has to be classified as the big winner here.

Carolina, in the wake of firing head coach Matt Rhule after San Francisco soundly beat his former team in Week 5, is looking at an awfully long rebuild. McCaffrey, considering the length and expense of his deal, could have been a building-block piece. However, at 26 years old, he would have been hitting the tail end of his career by the time the Panthers were likely back in playoff contention.

Instead, McCaffrey goes to a run-first offense that likes to utilize pass-catching running backs in the receiving game, and the 49ers are playoff-ready right now.

And McCaffrey won’t have to worry about coming in and having to compete for anyone’s job.

It’s his by default.