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When healthy, Christian McCaffrey is unstoppable

Mike Florio and Peter King break down the implications of the trade for RB Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers to San Francisco 49ers, and explain why it was a slightly risky move by the 49ers.

So what are the 49ers getting in running back Christian McCaffrey? When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best offensive weapons in football.

In 2019, his third NFL season, McCaffrey became the third player in league history to generate 1,000 or more rushing yards and 1,000 or more receiving yards, joining 49ers running back Roger Craig (1985) and Rams running back Marshall Faulk (1999).

Coincidentally, both the 49ers and Rams tried to get McCaffrey.

He finished the 2019 season with 1,387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards in 16 games. That performance earned him a massive contract. And he got it at just the right time; injuries limited him to three games in 2020 and seven in 2021.

It goes with the position. Seahawk running back Rashaad Penny explained earlier this month how hard it is for running backs to remain healthy enough to play, just days before suffering a season-ending broken leg.

“As an NFL player, I’m getting hit by guys that are 300 pounds,” Penny told reporters on October 6. “Safeties tackling at knees, it’s not easy to stay healthy. I thank God when I come out of the game every day now. I’m just thankful that I am healthy. I know what it is to be a football player.”

It’s even harder to be a football player when running with the ball into the scrum of bodies at the line of scrimmage, where the player constantly absorbs hits from every direction and angle. It’s not the player’s fault if injuries happen. If anything, the player should be praised for working hard to get back to 100 percent, only to know that it’s time to get banged around all over again.

This year, McCaffrey has landed on the injury report with shin, rib, and thigh injuries. He nevertheless played in every game.

It’s beyond his control or the team’s control as to whether his run of good health will continue. If/when he gets injured, it’s unavoidable. If he can avoid it, he’ll provide a major boost to an offense with the creativity and innovation to put him in a position to gain yardage in major chunks.