How Long has Christian McCaffrey Been on the 49ers?

The Carolina Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He spent the first five years of his career in Carolina. Midway through his sixth season, on October 20, 2022, a rebuilding Panthers team traded McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers. He now seeks to help lead the 49ers to their sixth Super Bowl victory.

Christian McCaffrey’s Career with the San Francisco 49ers

The Panthers traded McCaffrey to the 49ers on the Thursday before their Week 7 game. It would have made all the sense in the world if McCaffrey sat out a week while learning the playbook. Of course, that’s not what he did.

McCaffrey suited up just three days after joining the team. Coincidentally, his opponent that week? The Kansas City Chiefs.

Although he was limited to a small package of plays specifically designed for him, McCaffrey showed his natural talent by amassing 62 yards on just 10 touches. Being the intelligent man that he is, McCaffrey was able to pick up the playbook rather quickly. The very next week, he was the clear lead back.

McCaffrey played 11 games with the 49ers in 2022. In those games, he averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per carry and 67.8 rushing yards per game. As the NFL’s premier receiving back, he also averaged 4.7 catches for 42.4 receiving yards per game. He scored 10 total touchdowns over that stretch.

Heading into the 2023 season, McCaffrey had a full offseason to really learn the playbook. While he was able to grasp more and more of it each week in 2022, there’s only so much anyone can do in-season. The offseason allowed McCaffrey the time to truly master it.

Playing on the best offense of his career in a high-volume role, it’s no surprise McCaffrey had his best season in 2023. While he didn’t have the massive receiving numbers he did in Carolina, that’s because he didn’t need to. The 49ers have other weapons.

What McCaffrey lost in volume he more than made up for in efficiency. The star RB posted career-highs in yards per carry (5.4), rushing yards per game (91.2), and total touchdowns (21).

For a guy wrongfully labeled as injury prone, the only game in which McCaffrey missed during his 1.5 seasons with the 49ers was a meaningless Week 18 matchup in which the team rested its starters. He deservedly won Offensive Player of the Year in 2023.

McCaffrey’s Career with the Carolina Panthers

Prior to joining the 49ers, McCaffrey was racking up elite numbers on one of the league’s worst teams. The Panthers went 11-5 during his rookie year but didn’t come close to having a winning record in any season thereafter.

As a rookie, McCaffrey was used primarily as a satellite back with Jonathan Stewart entrenched as the lead runner, which limited CMC to 117 carries for 435 yards.

However, as a receiver, McCaffrey was elite out of the gate. He commanded 113 targets as a rookie, catching 80 passes for 651 yards. He scored seven total touchdowns that year, but his season wasn’t good enough to be a candidate for any awards.

In his sophomore season, McCaffrey had his breakout. While still not quite handling a full workload on the ground, he carried the ball 219 times for 1,098 yards. Through the air, McCaffrey once again was stellar, securing 107 of 124 targets for 867 yards. He scored 13 touchdowns and was named a second-team All-Pro.

McCaffrey’s third season was one for the ages. He finally handled a full workload on the ground with 287 carries for 1,387 yards. And McCaffrey didn’t just maintain his aerial dominance, he progressed. He caught a career-high 116 passes out of a career-high 142 targets for a career-high 1,005 receiving yards.

In total, McCaffrey compiled 2,392 yards on 403 touches — both numbers led the NFL. Unsurprisingly, he received Offensive Player of the Year votes, made his first Pro Bowl, and was named a first-team All-Pro.

MORE: Christian McCaffrey Wins AP Offensive Player of the Year

After three consecutive seasons where McCaffrey didn’t miss a game, the injury bug reared its ugly head. During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, various issues limited McCaffrey to a mere 10 games played.

To start the 2022 season, McCaffrey was healthy and playing at his usual elite level. After six games, his time in Carolina came to an end via the aforementioned trade to the 49ers.

As the 2023 NFL season comes to a close, the 2024 NFL Draft is on the horizon. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

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