Aaaaaaand BOOM. Christian McCaffrey is freed from the hellscape that has become the Carolina Panthers and now gets to go play for Kyle Shanahan — one of the most brilliant offensive minds in all of football — and for the iconic San Francisco 49ers franchise.
Fuck yes. I hate when elite talent goes to die on bad teams. The epitome of this who immediately springs to mind at McCaffrey's position is Barry Sanders. Not saying McCaffrey is as good as him, just that he was going to toil away in relative obscurity of the Niners or some other team hadn't swooped in to rescue him.
McCaffrey already has plenty of fans in California. Before he took the NFL by storm as a do-it-all running back, he was a sensation at Stanford on the NCAA gridiron.
Although San Francisco continues to invest plenty of draft capital in the backfield and have gone the cost-effective route at that spot in the Shanahan/John Lynch era from what I can recall, this bold departure is necessary. A quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo can only carry you so far even if everything around him is set up to succeed. Thing is, the Niners' o-line is a little green and banged-up, and the backfield has gotten very thin due to injuries as well.
All three of these issues — Jimmy G's ceiling, blocking, lack of game-changing tailbacks — are addressed and alleviated to a large degree by McCaffrey's arrival. We're talking about a guy who's had 100 catches in a single season twice.
PS I named the 49ers as one of the ideal McCaffrey trade destinations mere days ago NBD.
Shanahan is going to have a field day deploying McCaffrey all over the place. It may take some time for McCaffrey to pick up the complex system, but if anyone can do it, I think it's him. He must've been in agony trying to follow Ben McAdoo's bullshit scheme in Carolina. What a breath of fresh air the Bay Area will be.
These Niners now have McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle as weapons. What a group. With Trey Lance poised to take the reins from Jimmy G next season and a cheap rookie QB contract on the books, San Francisco should have little trouble taking on McCaffrey's pricy running back contract.
All this to say, this is definitely an all-in move given the immediate draft capital sacrificed, yet it's also with an eye toward the future and positioning Lance for greatness.