Christian McCaffrey establishing himself as NFL's best running back


Christian McCaffrey might appear reserved or subdued during his meetings with reporters, but the 49ers running back clearly has that dawg in him.

For the second straight week, CMC busted out a run of at least 50 yards on Sunday against the Rams, as he scampered 51 yards down the left sideline for a huge gain on the final play of the first half.

McCaffrey delivered a mean stiff arm to Rams cornerback (and former 49ers player) Ahkello Witherspoon and the two shared some trash talk afterwards. TV cameras appeared to catch McCaffrey calling Witherspoon a “b–ch” but CMC said they were merely exchanging pleasantries.

“Just, ‘What’s up man? Good to see you. How’s it going?’” McCaffrey said. “Casualties. Just casual conversation.”

See? He’s got that dawg in him.

McCaffrey ended the day with 20 carries for 116 yards and a score, as his contributions loomed large in the 30-23 49ers victory over their division rival. With it, San Francisco made it nine straight regular season wins over the Rams and took sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

After rattling off a 65-yard touchdown in the season opener, McCaffrey opened up the scoring Sunday by showing off his supreme vision and power, as he cut through the muck in the middle of the field and dragged a defender into the end zone for a 14-yard score.

It’s early, but looking at the leaderboards, McCaffrey is already starting to separate himself as the best running back in the league. Heading into Monday night’s doubleheader, McCaffrey’s 268 rushing yards are tops in the NFL by 88 yards, as Atlanta Falcons rookie Bijan Robinson (180 yards) is next on the list.

Again, it’s early, but McCaffrey is on pace to rush for 2,278 yards this season if he plays all 17 games. Hall of Famer Erick Dickerson set the all-time single season record with 2,105 yards in 1984 on a 16-game schedule, but we’ll have to see if CMC can flirt with history. His 6.4 yards per carry is also tops among NFL running backs with at least 20 carries so far this season.

Considering that McCaffrey’s hands remain elite (six catches, 36 yards so far), it’s not a stretch to say he’s the top offensive talent in the game right now. CMC said his hot start has been benefited by having a full offseason in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system, as he was learning on the fly last year following the midseason trade.

“I think it’s huge,” McCaffrey said. “You run with your eyes and your feet follow. Understanding where to put your eyes on every run and what the scheme is trying to accomplish is so important. Just having more wisdom under my belt is very important.”

His teammates, for sure, are happy he’s wearing the red and gold.

“Just look at our offense and look at the guys we have in our huddle,” Deebo Samuel said. “It’s kinda crazy how we made that happen. Adding Christian was a big plus for us. We’ve got a team full of playmakers.”

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