The San Francisco 49ers made a big splash on Thursday night by reportedly acquiring Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers. The dynamic running back has dealt with injuries the past few years, but he’s been healthy this season and could be a big piece for the Niners.
The rumors were swirling around McCaffrey for a bit now and the 49ers reportedly traded four picks in total for the running back: second-, third-, and fourth-round picks in 2023 as well as a fourth-round pick in 2024.
Eliot Shorr-Parks of the Audacy Original Podcast “The Best Football Show” explained why the McCaffrey trade is a win-win move for both the 49ers and Panthers.
“The interesting thing for the 49ers is this is a win-now move for them,” Shorr-Parks said (1:49 in player above). “McCaffrey is not exactly a building block where you’re going to have him for four or five more years. His best days are really going to be this season and potentially one or two more years.”
The 49ers are absolutely looking to win now with McCaffrey. All four teams in the NFC West have three wins and San Francisco sees a chance to run away with the division.
“The Niners look and go ‘the NFC is wide open. The division is wide open. We’re a team with playoff experience. We have an elite defense,’” Shorr-Parks continued. “If they can be a running game that controls the clock and their defense can hold teams into the low 20s, high teens, they could potentially make a run, especially when you consider the playoff experience that Jimmy Garoppolo has.”
Not only does adding McCaffrey help the 49ers on the field, but it should also help their morale knowing the front office is behind them.
“It gives them a sense of belief. It gives them the feeling like the front office is really investing in the roster, and you do pay a premium for it.
“A second-round pick for a running back of McCaffrey’s health at this point in his career is not cheap, and then you also give up the third-round pick, the fourth-round pick, and a fifth in 2024,” Shorr-Parks said. “So four picks overall, again, not exactly cheap for McCaffrey.”
While it may not have been the first-round picks that were rumored, getting a total of four picks for any player is impressive. That brings us to the Carolina side of things.
“It made sense to trade McCaffrey,” he said. “100 percent.”
The Panthers weren’t going to compete this year and their roster likely doesn’t give them a chance at competing anytime soon. They need a head coach, a quarterback, and at least a few more players to build around.
McCaffrey was clearly the best player on that roster and Carolina took advantage of trading him while he’s healthy.
“So you trade McCaffrey, again, good player, going to help the 49ers, but he has been injury prone. He has missed time – significant time – the last two years. He does have a lot of touches on his body during his time in the NFL,” Shorr-Parks said. “He stayed healthy this year, but I think you’re probably selling at a point with McCaffrey where you think because he’s healthy that he’s going to – you’re kind of selling high at this point, because if he gets injured that stock plummets even further.”
Both sides got something that they needed in this deal, which seems rare for an in-season trade.
“For the Panthers, they get the draft stock they need to maybe go get their quarterback to restart the rebuild that they need,” Shorr-Parks said. “For the 49ers, they get a player that’s going to fit perfectly with what Kyle Shanahan does, give them a chance to win that division, and take a year that really when Trey Lance went down might’ve been a lost year to now they’re thinking they can make a run in the postseason. I think it’s a win-win for both teams.”