Folks, it’s official: the San Francisco 49ers are NFC West Champions. That’s right, with a Week 15 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, Kyle Shanahan‘s squad is officially four games up on Pete Carroll’s team with three games left to play in the regular season, and at this point, are simply playing for playoff seating among the other division leaders, the 12-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings, and their Week 14 opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who currently lead the NFC South with a losing record of 6-7.
Fanatics has already started selling the t-shirts, fans have begun jumping with joy, and even the team’s catering staff celebrated the occasion with an absolute mountain of cheesesteaks of all different proteins, as was shared on social media by David Lombardi of The Athletic. Needless to say, this is a special occasion for every single member of the 49ers, from the practice squad to the stars, but it holds a special place in Christian McCaffrey‘s career, as it marks the first time in his six-year professional career where he’s been on a division winner.
Initially drafted by the Panthers with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, McCaffrey only appeared in one playoff game during his tenure in Carolina, rushing the ball six times for 16 yards while catching six of the eight thrown his way for 101 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 26-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints on January 7th, 2018. Though only time will tell how long McCaffrey’s playoff run will be in January of 2023, assuming health, McCaffrey will at the very least tie his career total, with the potential to lap it should the 49ers advance.
McCaffrey Complements His San Francisco 49ers Teammates
Speaking with team reporter Lindsey Pallares after the win, McCaffrey was asked what it’s like to win the division in front of a fanbase that, historically speaking, hasn’t been all that welcoming towards the 49ers over the years.
“Yeah, it’s amazing,” McCaffrey said. “God is good, I feel so fortunate to be a part of this team, it’s just a great team win. The way those guys practice, the way they work, you can tell this culture has been built for a long time, and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
When asked to describe the emotions and morale inside the locker room, McCaffrey couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he replied. “These guys put in so much work, we all put in so much work every day and it’s for stuff like that. To be able to celebrate winning the division, obviously, we know that we still have a lot more (work), but we’re going to enjoy this one, definitely. Like I said, I’m just so proud of this team, and this was such a great team win.”
The San Francisco 49ers Are On A Roll With Run CMC Starting
Though McCaffrey has only been a member of the 49ers for eight games, the last seven of which he started, his transition into Shanahan’s offense has provided the team with an instant impact, as San Francisco has a 7-0 record in games where their All-Pro rusher started the contest.
Is that a coincidence? Potentially so, but the 49ers have continued to thrive on the field against some very talented teams like the Miami Dolphins and the Buccaneers despite losing their second starting quarterback of the season, Jimmy Garoppolo, to a potentially season-ending foot injury. Still, with DeMeco Ryan’s defense continuing to thrive and Brock Purdy continuing to impress, McCaffrey has become a vital cog in one of the NFL’s most interesting offenses.