The NFL’s annual Pro Bowl event looked much different in 2023 than in the past. There were no shoulder pads or helmets to be found at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Instead, football’s greatest talents showcased their skills in front of nearly 60,000 fans in a revamped Pro Bowl Games format that pinned NFC and AFC stars against each other in a series of competitions, including three flag football games.
It might take some getting used to for fans, but 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey approved of the NFL’s newest tweak.
"I definitely don't need to take more hits," McCaffrey told reporters Sunday [h/t ESPN]. “So, I'm a proponent for it."
McCaffrey was one of four 49ers offensive players named to the Pro Bowl, joining left tackle Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Safety Talanoa Hufanga, defensive end Nick Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner represented San Francisco’s defense.
Juszczyk, playing in the third and final flag football contest, caught a pair of touchdowns Sunday and hauled in the most impressive catch of the day, fully laying out to nab a pass from Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The NFC edged the AFC 35-33 in total points for the event, which included competitions such as “Best Catch” and “Kick-Tac-Toe,” where long snappers, punters and kickers showcased their skills by launching footballs at a giant tic-tac-toe board.
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There is no perfect format to honor football’s finest players without asking them to participate in a full-contact football game and risk injury. But the NFL might have found something in the Pro Bowl Games, a revamped format that stars like McCaffrey have grown to appreciate.