SANTA CLARA — Christian McCaffrey is arguably the most valuable player in the league and on the 49ers roster, but before the trade to acquire the dynamic running back went down in the middle of the 2022 NFL season, San Francisco's CEO and owner Jed York sensed some hesitation from coach Kyle Shanahan.
York remembers needing to team up with John Lynch to convince the Shanahan why it was the right move to make.
"He thought it was a lot to give up for a running back," York said with a smile. "And I think John and I thought it was just the right amount to give up for Christian."
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
York and Lynch did enough to get Shanahan on board to trade second-, third- and fourth-round draft picks in 2023 and a fifth-round draft pick in 2024 for the All-Pro running back, but it took some convincing.
"I remember that very vividly," York said. "Where it's like, 'Look, it's not a pass rusher, it's not a quarterback, but look, it's a good player, but do we want to give up that much?' And collectively, it was like, 'Do you want him to go to LA? This is where we are.'"
Thus far it has been one of the most impactful trades that the 49ers have brokered, with McCaffrey becoming a vital player on the club's stacked offense. The "running back" has been extremely effective on the ground but also as a receiver.
The All-Pro amassed 1,210 yards from scrimmage in his 11 games with the 49ers in the 2022 NFL season before racking up 2,023 over 16 appearances during a dominant 2023 campaign. York knew all along that McCaffrey was just what the club needed at just the right time.
San Francisco 49ers
"As somebody who plays poker a little bit, you don't go all in on six, jack off suit," York said. "When you have a pair of jacks or ace, king, you might not win the hand, but that's when you want to push the chips into the middle."
That's exactly what the 49ers did, and it has paid off with two consecutive trips to the NFC Championship Game and, now, a trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII.
While York and Lynch got their player, the CEO understood Shanahan's perspective and appreciated his concern for the overall success of the organization and why he was apprehensive.
"When we draft, when we do things in free agency, it's generally on the defensive side of the ball," York explained. "We generally do not draft offensive players super high. We are not doing a ton of stuff in free agency for offensive players.
"It is more that he's focused on the defense because he knows he's going to spend more time on the offense. I think it was just making sure that he felt comfortable knowing that it might work, but it's a bet that we are willing to make."