Christian McCaffrey just reset the RB market, what does it mean for 49ers?

Christian McCaffrey is getting a new contract extension that'll cut into the Niners' limited amount of salary cap space.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23)
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Christian McCaffrey just received a new contract extension, but that'll have a trickle-down effect on the 49ers' salary cap situation.

San Francisco 49ers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey opted not to attend his team's voluntary organized team activities.

Perhaps now we understand why.

Not long after a report broke that the reigning Offensive Player of the Year would be present for mandatory minicamp, an additional report from ESPN's Adam Schefter potentially explained why the tailback skipped OTAs.

McCaffrey was going to receive an extension and hefty pay increase:

McCaffrey was already the highest-paid running back in the league, averaging a shade over $16 million per year on his previous deal.

That said, after leading the NFL with 2,023 all-purpose yards in 2023, McCaffrey's value extends well beyond the traditional value for running backs, especially for as diverse an offense operated underneath head coach Kyle Shanahan.

According to the report, McCaffrey's deal will include $8 million more than what he was supposed to make with an additional $24 million guaranteed.

How Christian McCaffrey's new contract impacts 49ers' salary cap

Following the post-June 1 designated release of now-Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Arik Armstead, the Niners climbed up to $25-plus million in available cap space, per Over the Cap.

While the exact details of McCaffrey's new contract aren't yet known, San Francisco does have to cautiously navigate its cap situation in 2025 and beyond.

The 49ers are trying to negotiate an extension with star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who could command an annual average of $30 million per year. In 2025, quarterback Brock Purdy will be eligible for an extension that could result in him being one of the highest-paid signal-callers in the league.

Currently, OTC projects the Niners to already be $41.57 million over the cap in 2025.

While spreading out cap hits over longer periods can help whittle down the overage, it's safe to say McCaffrey's new contract will have a substantial impact on how general manager John Lynch and Co. have some additional work to do in order to maintain cap compliance.

At least for McCaffrey, who got paid again after already leading his position in money, he'll be set for the long run.

Update: Per David Lombardi of The Athletic, McCaffrey's new contract helps spread out his cap hit and will actually increase San Francisco's cap space in 2024:

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