Christian McCaffrey

CMC primed to win first NFL rushing title despite missing final game

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It seems like 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey made some kind of mark in NFL or franchise history just about every week of the 2023 NFL season.

That is shaping up to ring true Sunday for the final game of the regular season -- even without the All-Pro running back ever stepping foot on the field.

McCaffrey's 1,459 rushing yards this season likely will earn him the first NFL rushing title of his seven-year pro career.

The next-closest player is Los Angeles Rams second-year running back Kyren Williams, the opponent San Francisco will be facing in the season finale Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

It will take 315 yards from the 23-year-old to prevent McCaffrey from accomplishing something the 49ers back never has before. Impossible? No. Unlikely? Probably.

McCaffrey has been an absolute stud for the 49ers since joining the team via a midseason trade with the Carolina Panthers last year. And after San Francisco clinched the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed Sunday, securing a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said McCaffrey will sit out of the game with a mild right calf strain but will be ready to go for their first playoff game on Jan. 20 or Jan. 21.

Additionally, McCaffrey could become the first player in 28 years and only the fourth since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in rushing after every week of a full season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (1995), Walter Payton (1977) and O.J. Simpson (1973, 1975).

All the records he shattered and history he made has put McCaffrey among one of the top candidates for the NFL MVP award, although he is focused on accomplishing his biggest goal of reaching the Super Bowl -- and winning.

Even though Sunday's game doesn't mean much to the 49ers as they've got bigger postseason fish to fry, Sunday will be special for McCaffrey as he inches closer to his ultimate goal.

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