3 AI-Powered Divisional Round Predictions for 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

Getty Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

The San Francisco 49ers are heavy favorites to knock off the Green Bay Packers and advance to the NFC Championship Game, and running back Christian McCaffrey figures to play a starring role.

McCaffrey benefitted from the 49ers’ bye week as the top-seed in the NFC, after suffering a calf injury against the Washington Commanders back in Week 17, and appears to be all systems go for the Saturday 8:20 p.m. showdown.

Heavy Sports’ AI-powered projections model, powered by our partners at Quarter 4 projects the 49ers to have a 73 percent chance to win the game.

Whether McCaffrey will be the typical focal point of the 49ers’ offense, or need to battle through the lingering effects of his injury remain to be seen.

Here are three NFL Divisional game predictions for McCaffrey generated by Heavy Sports’ AI-powered projections model.

The Packers Hold Christian McCaffrey Below 100 Rushing Yards

McCaffrey sprinted into the MVP conversation thanks to one of the strongest regular seasons of his career.

In his first full season in a 49ers uniform and head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, McCaffrey rushed for a career-high 1,459 yards with 14 touchdowns, while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.

The Heavy Sports model projects the Packers to largely keep McCaffrey under wraps, with the star running back rushing for only 87.6 yards on 17.6 carries, which would equate to only 4.9 yards per carry.

If that winds up being McCaffrey’s final stat line, it would mark the 10th time this season that McCaffrey fails to surpass 100 yards rushing.

The Packers bring the NFL’s No. 28 ranked rushing defense to Santa Clara, Calif., but if McCaffrey is limited by his injury could wind up keeping him below his season averages, as our model projects.

McCaffrey Plays Key Factor in 49ers’ Passing Game

Known as one of the premier dual-threat running backs in the game, McCaffrey is a threat to score every time he touches the football, including in the passing game.

McCaffrey enters the postseason having caught 67 of his 83 targets in the passing game for 564 receiving yards with seven touchdowns.

Especially if McCaffrey is limited at all, getting the ball in the 27-year-old the football in space could create significant opportunities for the 49ers to pull off some explosive plays in the passing game.

Against the Packers on Saturday night, our model projects McCaffrey to catch four passes for 37.9 yards, including 24.3 yards after the catch.

Green Bay’s defense has been vulnerable in the passing game this season, allowing 223.7 yards per game, as the league’s No. 22 ranked passing defense, which could make for a big night for McCaffrey as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

McCaffrey More Likely to Score a Rushing Touchdown

Since arriving as a trade deadline acquisition during the 2022 season, McCaffrey has become a touchdown machine for San Francisco.

In 27 games in a 49ers uniform, McCaffrey has scored 31 total touchdowns. Of McCaffrey’s scores, 20 have been rushing touchdowns and 11 came via the passing game.

Our model gives McCaffrey a slightly better chance of scoring a rushing touchdown against the Packers than a receiving score. According to the Heavy Sports Model’s projection, McCaffrey will rush for 0.7 touchdowns and account for 0.5 receiving touchdowns.

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