Christian McCaffrey

Shanahan not concerned with 49ers paying CMC into his 30s

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SANTA CLARA — Christian McCaffrey signed a two-year contract extension with the 49ers on Tuesday, keeping him with the team through the 2027 season. 

If the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year plays out the full terms of his contract, he will be 31 years old at the start of his final season, but that isn’t a concern for coach Kyle Shanahan or McCaffrey himself.

“Christian is one of the more talented people I’ve met in my life,” Shanahan said on Tuesday.  “But if I didn’t speak about that, I’d say he’s almost the biggest overachiever that’s been around my life in terms of how obsessive he is with every little thing.”

Part of that attention to detail includes an in-depth offseason training program and an intense recovery process during the season. McCaffrey did have an injury-plagued two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, only appearing in 10 games through the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but since being traded to the 49ers, rarely has missed a game or practice.

The Stanford product actually bristles when asked about any hint of an injury and repeatedly has been quoted as saying, “I feel great.”

“That’s where he’s extremely unique and as you get older with age, you lose a step or something, that’s not what makes Christian great,” Shanahan said. “It’s that he is the same player down in, and down out. And yeah, it’s great to have all the talent that he does have, and he takes care of his body as good as anyone, so you don’t picture him losing any of that because of a number.”

At 27 years old and in his seventh NFL season, McCaffrey ran for a career-best and league-high 1,459 rushing yards as well as compiling a league-leading 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 all-purpose touchdowns. The All-Pro racked up 339 touches, which also was tops in the NFL.

While Shanahan would like to lower McCaffrey’s touches and use the depth that the team has at running back, it has been difficult to take the All-Pro off the field. But the head coach does have the best intentions to make adjustments in the future. 

McCaffrey dislikes being taken out of any game and denies that turning 30 is a career-ender for a running back.

“I’ve never really listened to all that stuff,” McCaffrey said. “I think that I’ve seen a lot of backs have a lot success into their thirties so I’ve never really listened to any of that. I feel good, that’s all I know.”  

His 339 touches in 2023 are well below McCaffrey’s career high of 403 touches that he racked up in 2019 — his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro season when he recorded 2,392 scrimmage yards and 19 total touchdowns, both top in the league. Still, Shanahan will do all he can to help his offensive weapon remain healthy.

“When I think contractually, it’s four more years,” Shanahan said. “But when you look at Christian just as an individual I’m not going to compare him to anybody else. Christian is always going to be a good football player until he decides not to be, and we’re not really concerned with that at all with his type of personality.”

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