Micah Parsons knows greatness when he sees it, and that's exactly what he's preparing for Sunday with Christian McCaffrey as the 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys at Levi's Stadium.
The Cowboys star defender praised McCaffrey's adaptability on the field and believes the 49ers All-Pro back is the best at what he does.
“Christian, I think he’s the most versatile back in the NFL when it comes to how the 49ers use him," Parsons said Wednesday after Cowboys practice. "You can almost say he’s a running back who plays receiver or a receiver who plays running back. The way he gets open, the way you can’t just put anyone on him.
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.
"Sometimes, you might want to put a DB on him, just how good he is with his routes, and how dynamic he is. The way he’s able to make people miss, there’s nobody better in the NFL. Look at what he does and how explosive he is, I mean it’s something we have to be watchful of.”
Four weeks into the 2023 season, the 49ers are one of two remaining undefeated NFL teams, along with the Philadelphia Eagles. But it's been all about the McCaffrey Show.
McCaffrey thus far leads the league in rushing attempts (80), rushing yards, (459), rushing touchdowns (8) rushing yards per game (114.8), rushing attempts and receptions combined (98), and yards from scrimmage (600).
In Sunday's win against the Arizona Cardinals, McCaffrey racked up four touchdowns and 177 all-purpose yards, earning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors -- one week after being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.
San Francisco 49ers
When asked what stands out most about McCaffrey's game, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard pinpointed nearly the same quality as Parsons.
"His versatility, being a playmaker wherever he’s at on the field," Pollard said. "Whether he’s lined up in the slot running routes, catching the ball out of the backfield, running in between the tackles. Just being a physical player being able to make plays all over the field."
Another Niner who has been talked about a lot recently is second-year quarterback Brock Purdy, who has yet to lose a game he started and finished since taking over under center in Week 13 last season.
Parsons tipped his cap to the young quarterback, but has a feeling there might be opportunities for Dallas' defense to expose some of Purdy's weaknesses that other teams have yet to find.
“Something has to give. Especially with Purdy, I don’t think he’s played perfect, but I think he’s played really good and I think there’s opportunities there people just haven’t capitalized on," Parsons said. "He’s been really terrific through the past two years. He’s definitely solidified himself as one of those guys you have to watch for. Top-15 quarterback and things like that.
"And you know Christian, he’s always mindful of the ball. He’s always high and tight. He’s always in Dr. Pepper mode. He’s just really good, and that’s what you want out of your backs. Guys that are going to protect the ball and not turn it over, and same thing with Purdy. We got to try our best to reverse their tricks that they’ve been on.”
Parsons explained that "Dr. Pepper Mode" is when a player has two fingers on the football to better protect the ball in traffic. Why Dr. Pepper? Parsons wasn't exactly sure, but it's the term that is used in special teams meetings.
While McCaffrey tries to get into "Dr. Pepper Mode," Parsons will be in full attack mode Sunday for the historical rivalry.