49ers’ Christian McCaffrey Admits He’s Still ‘Angry’ With Old Team

Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

Getty Christian McCaffrey, 49ers running back

So much has gone right for Christian McCaffrey in the last year, you’d think he spends each morning giving thanks and praise to the Carolina Panthers for sending him out West to the 49ers at this time last year. His old team is 0-4 and in the depths of a rebuild and his new team is 4-0 and pulling away as the favorite to go to the Super Bowl.

Yet, as McCaffrey told Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle, he is still a bit ticked off with the Panthers for getting rid of him, and that is what is—in part, at least—driving his stellar early season so far. It was a little less than a year ago that McCaffrey was dealt to San Francisco for second-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2024.

“There are so many emotions that come at you at once,” he said, “because you have a home there, you feel like you’re a part of the city, you got drafted there, and I was playing relatively well. We weren’t on a good team, but I felt like I wasn’t messing up enough to where (they’d think), ‘We’ve gotta get rid of this guy.’

“I guess I don’t necessarily know the difference between cut or traded. All I know is they’re getting rid of you. … Like, you guys don’t think I’m good enough, you don’t think you need me here anymore. That would p*** anybody off. … I think it would be weird if I was all happy about somebody getting rid of me. I think that would be more of an unnatural reaction than being angry.”

Could McCaffrey Really Win NFL MVP?

Anger seems a bit extreme. Obviously, McCaffrey is in a better spot now, his national profile has been raised and he has the chance to drive his team to the Super Bowl. Not only that, but the 49ers have done so much to feature him that he is getting MVP plaudits after four weeks of the year, a somewhat crazy notion given that no non-quarterback has won the league’s MVP award in 11 years.

McCaffrey leads the NFL with 450 yards rushing, as well as with six rushing touchdowns. He also is the most-worked back in the league, with 80 carries. Throw in 18 receptions for 141 yards and another touchdown, and the MVP argument takes pretty clear shape.

But the last running back to win MVP was Adrian Peterson, and he won that based off hitting a rare milestone—he racked up 2,097 yards rushing, just eight shy of Eric Dickerson’s all-time record. That was enough to help him best Peyton Manning for the award.

McCaffrey is not likely to crack 2,000 yards—he is on pace for 1,915—and if he does, it will probably only be because of the NFL’s 17-game schedule. But McCaffrey can take a different angle to the MVP award for the 49ers than Peterson took for the Vikings, who were only 10-6 that seson. McCaffrey could help this team to 14 or 15 wins

No, 1,915 yards does not have the same razzle-dazzle as 2,097, but how about 1,915 yards and a 15-2 record? With a second-year quarterback, to boot?

49ers 16-2 With McCaffrey

That’s entirely possible. The 49ers are 16-2 since trading for McCaffrey, including the playoff loss to Philadelphia in which quarterback Brock Purdy got hurt and his debut game against the Chiefs, as he was still learning the offense.

And looking at McCaffrey’s games based on “pace” might not be fair, either. He is constantly getting better and has been since arriving in San Francisco. He might still eb scratching the surface of what he can do with the 49ers.

“That’s something that I love about myself — the edge, and finding different ways to get better,” McCaffrey said. “I think as soon as you try to chill out on that, you become complacent. And I just never want to be (that). It’s something that’s driven me my whole life, that chip on my shoulder, and knowing I can be better.”

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