49ers looking forward to full offseason with Christian McCaffrey

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Within the opening days of organized staff actions, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did not wish to rush his staff again. In spite of everything, the Niners had made one other deep playoff run, and although groups cannot have padded practices in OTAs, Shanahan wished to actually ease his squad again into on-field motion.

So when the 49ers lined up for his or her first set of 11-on-11 work, they did so with out pads and helmets. It is exhausting to glean a lot from what quantities to a glorified walk-through, however there was one participant who was not possible to overlook: operating again Christian McCaffrey.

For these watching McCaffrey, it was troublesome to inform whether or not it was a Might 23 OTA or a late-season NFC West matchup. He was engaged in each step of the apply, ripping off runs at full pace and eagerly attacking each drill.

“He units the usual,” quarterback Trey Lance stated. “He is rapidly grown into a fantastic chief in our locker room, and I believe a whole lot of guys had a sense that that may occur fairly rapidly simply primarily based on who he’s.”

It is perhaps troublesome to measure McCaffrey’s influence on San Francisco’s locker room after he arrived in a commerce with the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 21, however there is not any denying his on-field efficiency made him one of the vital impactful in-season acquisitions in current NFL historical past.

Earlier than McCaffrey stepped into the beginning lineup in Week 8, the Niners ranked twentieth within the NFL in factors per recreation (20.7), thirteenth in yards per recreation (355) and 18th in anticipated factors added (minus-0.04). San Francisco went 3-4 in that span.

Together with the postseason, they ranked third (28.6), seventh (362.5) and third (6.8) in these classes, respectively, after McCaffrey took over because the starter. The Niners went 12-1, falling to the Philadelphia Eagles within the NFC Championship Recreation.

Regardless of that manufacturing, the 49ers and McCaffrey imagine there are many methods to raise his recreation — and by extension your entire offense — to a different stage in his first full season as a Niner. Whereas McCaffrey has at all times participated absolutely within the offseason program, most of which isn’t obligatory and prevented by many star gamers, there was by no means a doubt that he would attend each a part of it.

“I am simply attempting to study as a lot as doable,” McCaffrey stated. “It is good to have the ability to begin from sq. one and getting proper with [running backs] coach [Bobby] Turner and ensuring it is not simply studying the performs however studying each single element of the positions.”

That represents a far cry from the crash course McCaffrey took earlier than stepping onto the sector towards the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs lower than 48 hours after he arrived in San Francisco. From there, McCaffrey was in a position to study a bit extra every week, however most of it was game-plan particular. Which implies this offseason is his first probability to dive deep into the finer particulars of Shanahan’s offense.

It is one thing McCaffrey, who has performed video games for 5 offensive playcallers in six NFL seasons, isn’t taking without any consideration.

“In Carolina, we at all times had totally different coaches coming …” McCaffrey stated. “So, I used to be at all times studying the performs.”

All of which begs the query: How a lot additional can McCaffrey go together with a full offseason in Shanahan’s system underneath his belt?

McCaffrey’s historical past suggests there’s nonetheless loads of methods for him to lift his recreation. Solely as soon as in his profession has he been wholesome for a full season and labored with the identical playcaller because the earlier 12 months. That was in 2019, when Norv Turner received a second season calling performs for the Panthers. That was McCaffrey’s greatest 12 months, as he posted 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns in 16 video games. That adopted a 2018 season wherein he rang up 1,965 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 video games.

In 13 video games as San Francisco’s beginning operating again final season, McCaffrey averaged 111.3 scrimmage yards per recreation (72.8 speeding and 38.5 receiving) whereas scoring a mixed 13 touchdowns on 19.5 touches per recreation. Extrapolated over the course of a 17-game season, that comes out to 1,892 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns, according to his 2018 manufacturing.

On a staff that additionally boasts gifted ability place gamers resembling receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, tight finish George Kittle, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and operating again Elijah Mitchell, it was McCaffrey who advanced into the Niners’ prime possibility over the ultimate half of the season and into the playoffs. That gifted forged ought to provide McCaffrey continued alternatives to make huge performs, but it surely additionally means he is unlikely to get again to a workload much like the 25.2 touches per recreation he had in 2019.

Extra probably, the Niners will look to handle McCaffrey’s well being; he performed a mixed 10 video games in 2020 and 2021 due to ankle, shoulder, thigh and hamstring accidents and needed to restrict his apply participation on the finish of final season due to a knee concern — whereas working in fellow backs Mitchell and Jordan Mason. Which means McCaffrey might find yourself nearer to the 20.4 touches he averaged in 2018, which, if he can keep wholesome, would most likely push him towards 2,000 scrimmage yards.

Such a season would come as no shock to Niners quarterback Sam Darnold, who performed with McCaffrey in Carolina and has seen the outcomes of his offseason strategy in individual.

“I am used to it,” Darnold stated. “It is simply his work ethic, that is by no means going to alter. … He is simply received a fantastic work ethic and I believe guys reply to that basically nicely and it type of pushes the fellows round him.”

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