CMC's all-around value as triple threat on display vs. Rams


The 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey because they knew he could be a game-changer on offense, even though they’ve found backfield success without big names in the past.

“I don’t think there’s anything he can’t do,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Oct. 21, the day after the trade. “Whether it’s the run game, pass game, blocking. I think he’s a very talented player, and just watching how he plays, he’s a very smart player.”

And in Sunday’s Week 8 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, the running back displayed exactly why San Francisco sent four future draft picks to the Carolina Panthers for him -- but not just through the ground attack the 49ers Faithful might have expected.

While described by some as a dual-threat rusher and pass-catcher, McCaffrey showed he’s an all-around phenom at SoFi Stadium with a passing touchdown in the game’s second quarter, a receiving touchdown in the third and a rushing touchdown in the fourth.

If you’re counting along at home, McCaffrey played a hand in scoring 21 of the 49ers’ first 24 points against Los Angeles.

Game-changer indeed.

In limited action against the Kansas City Chiefs last week after just two days in the Bay, McCaffrey made the most of his touches and foreshadowed that once he learned Kyle Shanahan’s playbook, the possibilities would be endless.

Shanahan’s game plan appeared to be simple Sunday: Get McCaffrey the ball.

First, McCaffrey snatched a backward pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and heaved the ball downfield to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who hauled in the pass from the new 49ers running back for a 34-yard touchdown to even the score 7-7 in the second quarter.

Then in the third, Garoppolo connected with the All-Pro for a 9-yard touchdown that saw McCaffrey leap athletically through the air before landing with both feet in the endzone. 49ers 17, Rams 14.

And in the fourth quarter, McCaffrey completed the offensive triple crown by doing what he does best. He followed up a 24-yard carry with a 1-yard touchdown run, barreling through a bevy of Rams defenders at the goal line to put the 49ers up 24-14.

With 49ers “wide back” Deebo Samuel out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, San Francisco needed McCaffrey to step up after a full week of practice under his belt.

The running back finished with 94 yards rushing and one touchdown on 18 carries, 55 yards receiving and a touchdown on eight receptions and, not to be forgotten, a perfect completion percentage thanks to his lone touchdown pass.

Let’s put that 158.3 passer rating in print, too.

All in a day's work for the running back, who helped the 49ers walk out of SoFi Stadium with a 31-14 victory over the Rams -- their eight consecutive regular-season win against their NFC West rival -- and a 4-4 record.

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So is McCaffrey a dual-threat athlete? Sure. But in the NFL and certainly in the Bay, the running back will be known as a triple threat after his historic day in Inglewood.

And that might be more than even the 49ers hoped he could be.

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