The Carolina Panthers did the inevitable, sending running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a boatload of picks. McCaffrey has always been one of the best running back talents in the league, but for the first time in his career, he is now part of a good NFL offense. Can the running back take advantage of this and elevate his game to previously-unseen heights?
Fantasy Football: Christian McCaffrey on the San Francisco 49ers
Christian McCaffrey Himself
Christian McCaffrey is one of the biggest names in fantasy football, but is that hype still justified? His 2019 season was one for the record books, but that was many years and injuries ago. Before we analyze his situation, we first need to determine if he’s still capable of playing to that elite level.
In short, yes. Through the first six games of the 2022 season, McCaffrey is currently the RB4 overall. He’s played in at least 80% of the snaps in every single game and maintains an elite workload in both the passing and running game. Additionally, he’s found a way to be efficient with his touches, despite working in one of the worst environments imaginable. The Panthers already fired their inept coach, the offensive line is below-average, and Carolina is currently down to their fourth-string quarterback.
Your newest member of the #49ers, Christian McCaffrey ‼️pic.twitter.com/72NUrCjCOm
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) October 21, 2022
The only reason to be worried about Christian McCaffrey as a player is his injuries. Over the past two years, the running back has missed all but 10 games thanks to a wide variety of ailments. Fortunately, as discussed in plenty of posts throughout the offseason, those injuries do not carry any long-term side effects and there is no reason to believe McCaffrey is at a heightened risk of injury. This isn’t to say injuries can’t happen – football is a violent sport, and running backs take a beating every single time they touch the ball. However, McCaffrey is no more likely to be hurt than anyone else that plays the position.
Christian McCaffrey In San Francisco
After spending years with bad coaches and quarterbacks, Christian McCaffrey has landed in running back heaven. Kyle Shanahan is arguably the most creative offensive mind in the game, especially when it comes to the run game. Shanahan has gone through a stable of running backs since taking over in San Francisco, and the one constant between all of them is that the starter always produces for fantasy.
These guys aren’t exactly destined for the Hall of Fame, either. Jeff Wilson, Elijah Mitchell, Raheem Mostert, and Matt Breida are all replacement-level players, yet each one had multiple stretches of RB1-2 performances while leading this offense. Shanahan loves keeping the same running back on the field as much as humanly possible, and McCaffrey is easily the most talented guy he’s ever had. McCaffrey will maintain his massive workload, and he should be more efficient with Shanahan’s fantastic scheming than he was with Matt Rhule calling the shots. Additionally, the 49ers have a significantly better offense, which means more scoring opportunities.
McCaffrey also has the benefit of catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo is not a special real-life quarterback, but he is great for running backs. San Francisco’s longtime starter is one of the more conservative passers in the league and loves checking the ball down to the running back. McCaffrey demands a large target share on his own, but he should also see plenty of checkdowns that he wasn’t getting with the more aggressive Baker Mayfield.
Ultimately, McCaffrey’s talent, Shanahan’s scheme, and Garoppolo’s passing tendencies come together to form the perfect situation. McCaffrey’s 2019 was one of the greatest seasons ever, and it would be hard to him to match that level of production. That being said, he found a way to be the RB4 with only three touchdowns in Carolina, so the sky is truly the limit in San Francisco. As long as he’s on the field, he’s my RB1 for the rest of the season.