Christian McCaffrey called the trade to the San Francisco 49ers one that became “the best thing to happen to me” during his appearance at the Dwight Clark Legacy Series event.
While 49er fans welcomed that rhetoric, some fans believed McCaffrey was dissing his former team the Carolina Panthers — where he became an All-Pro and where he began his NFL journey as a top 10 pick.
McCaffrey not only addressed his “best thing” comments on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Friday, May 19, he also got on the show to clarify his remarks about the trade.
“I do want to make it clear, though, it was nothing against Carolina when I said that, ” McCaffrey shared to GMF’s Kyle Brandt. “I meant no bad blood. I love everybody there. Still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates there, a lot of the coaches who I had the privilege of playing for there.”
Again, McCaffrey earned his first taste of being an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in Charlotte and became a focal point of the Panthers’ offense. He also had his lone 1,000-yard rushing and receiving season with the Panthers in 2019. McCaffrey was a prized midseason trade for the 49ers before the league’s November trade deadline — which eventually led to the 49ers advancing to the NFC title game, a first for McCaffrey’s career.
‘I Felt Like I was on a Pro Bowl Roster’
McCaffrey only played in 11 games with the 49ers. But right away, he realized how special of a group he walked into after the trade.
“I was thrown into the fire pretty quickly, and I think, early on in practice, when I was in the huddle, and I had George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Juszczyk, all these guys…I felt like I was on a Pro Bowl roster,” McCaffrey explained. “And it hit me that this was a special team. I was very fortunate.”
McCaffrey’s impact was felt right away. He ended up producing four 100-yard rushing games for the 49ers including playoffs. He also scored at least one touchdown either through running or receiving in 10 games.
Now, he gets the opportunity to play an entire regular season with the roster he says feels like a Pro Bowl one.
CMC Describes 49ers Culture
While McCaffrey did experience the postseason with the Panthers, he had never tasted a playoff win until he became a 49er.
Unfortunately in Carolina, he witnessed a head coaching change and ended up playing for three different head coaches in Ron Rivera, Matt Rhule and interim coach Steve Wilks — who now joins McCaffrey in the Bay Area. But CMC dove into the description of the kind of culture he’s witnessed with the 49ers.
“I came to a team that had built a culture, had taken time to build a culture. To add on top of the roster is, in my opinion, some of the best coaches in the NFL, and guys who know how to use players like myself, and who have been doing it for so long,” McCaffrey said.
He concluded with: “So I just felt very fortunate to be a part of something that was already so developed, so to say, and like I said, a culture that was established.”