Christian McCaffrey went through a roller-coaster of emotions on Oct. 20, when the Carolina Panthers traded him to the 49ers midway through the 2022 NFL season.
The star running back likely had little time to reflect on what had transpired. as he was dropped onto a team vying to win the NFC West and reach Super Bowl LVII. However, with the offseason now in full swing, the Stanford product opened up about the trade that returned him to the Bay.
"It's a weird deal because there's so many emotions, and the first emotion is probably anger," McCaffrey recently told the "Bussin' with the Boys" podcast (h/t Pro Football Talk's Charean Williams). "Like, you guys don't want me anymore? That's really what it is. 'Well, they got a lot for you.' Nah, like you think you're better off without me; that's what it is. You're pissed off, but then you're excited.
"There's so many emotions that get flooded at you at once. ... I don't know if I've fully decompressed yet from the whole thing."
Although McCaffrey was excited about joining the 49ers, he believed his future would be in Charlotte. So, the running back laid roots in the city while blocking out all rumors of a possible trade.
"I never thought I'd get traded," McCaffrey continued. "I thought I was a Panther forever. I'm like, 'I bought a house there. This is home.' And I'd heard the rumors [last] offseason, so obviously, I called [Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer]. I'm like, 'Hey, man, I just need to hear it from you. Any truth? And he was super honest. He's like, 'Look, absolutely not. We don't want to do this, but we'll listen to everything,' and that's fair. I'm like, 'Sounds good, just let me know.'
"But I went into the  season, man. I'm like, 'Look, I'm all in. It is what it is.' I legitimately forgot about that, thinking I'm on the team. I play. And I think it was four or five games, and the rumors had continued and Coach [Matt] Rhule got fired. We had lost a few games in a row, and I figured, like, if this was going to happen, this is how it happens."
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McCaffrey, at 26 years old, is in the middle of his prime football years, and while he planned for a future as a Panther, he now finds himself trying to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy as a 49er.