Christian McCaffrey

49ers' McCaffrey believes hard hits just football, not intentional

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SANTA CLARA — 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has every opposing defensive player desperate, doing anything they can to stop the NFL's top rusher.

While at times at appears that the All-Pro is being targeted, McCaffrey believes it’s just part of the game.

But the stats do not lie. Opposing defenses have been called for facemask violations and/or targeting/head-to-head contact on McCaffrey in the past three consecutive 49ers games alone.

“I have no idea,” McCaffrey said when asked if he thought the violations were intentional. “I know that in football, that stuff happens whether the intent is wrong or not. It’s my job not to be put in those situations, and do a a better job of avoiding.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s intentional but I also don’t know. Who knows. It’s football, man. It happens.”

McCaffrey has carried the ball 99 times for 510 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, putting him on pace to gain over 1,700 yards through 17 games. The Stanford product also has caught 20 of his 24 targets for 168 yards and a receiving score.

The Dallas Cowboys defense seemed to focus all of their efforts on McCaffrey, limiting him to only 51 yards on 19 carries for an average of 2.7 yards per carry, his lowest of the 2023 NFL season.

With teams doing anything they can to stop McCaffrey, he is prepared for it all, finding the bright side defenses get too physical with him. In essence, he has been taking one for the team.

“In these games you expect every thing,” McCaffrey said. “Once something happens to you once, you know that’s an option. It’s just about getting open and making sure that your pads are down and if something like that happens, get up and if it’s a penalty, it’s another 15 yards.”

McCaffrey and the 49ers' offense are facing arguable their toughest challenge yet against Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the first of two straight road games, and the All-Pro will be ready for whatever comes his way.

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