NFC West Reporter
The San Francisco 49ers have discovered a dynamic inside runner with the addition of Christian McCaffrey to pair with one of the vital harmful outdoors runners within the sport in Deebo Samuel.
Per Subsequent Gen Stats, final season Samuel averaged 6.6 yards per stick with it 42 rushes outdoors the sort out field, together with 11 runs of 10-plus yards and eight scores. In two video games because the Niners acquired him from the Carolina Panthers, McCaffrey has had most of his success operating between the tackles, with 14 rushes for 86 yards and a rating, averaging 6.1 yard per carry.
San Francisco gave up second-, third- and fourth-round picks in subsequent yr’s draft, together with a fifth-rounder in 2024, for McCaffrey, who has returned to the West Coast the place he performed his school ball at Stanford.
After his first full week of preparation, McCaffrey had 183 all-purpose yards in a 31-14 victory over the Los Angeles Rams two weeks in the past. In that commanding efficiency, McCaffrey joined elite firm, turning into the primary participant since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to have passing, dashing and receiving touchdowns in a single sport.
Christian McCaffrey goes for a hat-trick vs. Rams
FOX Sports activities NFL Analyst Sean Payton joins Colin Cowherd to recap Christian McCaffrey’s three-TD efficiency in opposition to the Rams.
Not solely do opposing defenses need to take care of McCaffrey and Samuel’s dynamic ability units, as soon as they break the huddle defenders should work out the place they’re lined up earlier than the ball is snapped. In keeping with Professional Soccer Focus, McCaffrey has lined up 310 occasions within the backfield, 32 occasions within the slot and 11 occasions out broad this season. Samuel has lined up 54 occasions within the backfield, 74 occasions within the slot and 240 occasions out broad.
Add within the tandem’s capability to shift and go in movement and the Niners have a number of methods to create favorable matchups with these two distinctive chess items.
“He’s such a versatile player,” 49ers GM John Lynch informed The Athletic in explaining the commerce for McCaffrey. “He can do so much in the run game, in the pass game. We felt like he would lift all boats.
“He’d make Jimmy [Garoppolo] a greater participant, he’d make our group a greater group. I believe once you add him with Deebo and their ability units, though they play totally different positions, they actually mirror one another fairly nicely.”
Tight end George Kittle, whose locker is next to McCaffrey’s, says he is so dangerous as a cutback runner because of his ability to threaten the perimeter with his speed, making it easier for linemen to set up their blocks up front.
“Whenever you’re operating the ball — particularly on outdoors zone stuff — and you’ve got a operating again who’s quick sufficient to push the sting … and so they assume the ball may really bounce outdoors earlier than they reduce it again, it actually eliminates holding calls and makes my job so much simpler,” Kittle stated.
“It additionally stretches the protection to the place that bottom 3-technique has to make the sort out. And he cannot do that each down as a result of he weighs 300-plus kilos. So, Christian is figuring that out. However when you might have a operating again who can stretch and reduce … Christian simply does a wonderful job of organising his blocks and permitting us to select a lane for him.”
During the Niners’ bye week, McCaffrey said he focused on getting more comfortable with Kyle Shanahan’s playbook in preparation for San Francisco’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers at home on Sunday.
“There’s nonetheless a variety of meat on the bone that I left on the market,” McCaffrey said. “Actually understanding what we’re attempting to perform as an offense. Kyle’s run sport and cross sport are so particular, and so for me it is about actually understanding what we’re attempting to do with the play, serving to arrange blocks, ending performs down the sector and eliminating damaging runs.”
San Francisco’s confidence in McCaffrey performing as the lead running back allowed the 49ers to ship Jeff Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins for a fifth-round selection. While moving a great locker room guy like Wilson to South Beach presents a risk due to McCaffrey’s injury history, San Francisco appears willing to live with the result.
“I identical to how constant he’s and below management in what he does,” Shanahan said about McCaffrey. “He is a really good participant. Regardless that he makes a variety of performs, with the consistency in how he performs his sport, I really feel like he was an awesome man so as to add for us.”
Another area in which McCaffrey should help San Francisco is in the play-action game. Linebackers will have to respect the 49ers’ ability to effectively run the football with McCaffrey, creating voids in the middle of the field for pass-catchers like Samuel and Kittle. Per Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo has completed 29 of 44 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on play-action passes this season.
And yes, the Niners will face one of the worst run defenses in the NFL when the Chargers come to town. The Bolts allowed the Falcons to rush for 201 yards last week. For the season, L.A. is giving up a league-worst 5.71 rushing yards per play.
With Samuel, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and running back Elijah Mitchell all expected to return from injury this week, McCaffrey could have a big day against the Chargers.
“You possibly can inform how nice he desires to be, and I believe that type of simply pushes us all slightly extra, too,” Kittle said. “He is solely going to get higher in our offense. Hopefully we will proceed to present him the ball and open up these lanes for him.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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