SANTA CLARA — Christian McCaffrey never would be the last kid picked to someone’s football team, but 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes that’s his All-Pro running back's mentality.
“What’s so special about Christian, that don’t know until you get him, is he seems like a guy no one will play,” Shanahan said on Friday. “He’s just working so hard and such an overachiever. And he’s just like, ‘Coach, just let me be on the team.’
“Everyone has those gym rats, who just work so hard. I’m probably describing myself in college because I was trying to turn myself into someone I’m not.”
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Shanahan has personal experience with that hard-working mental approach to the game after he tried to make a name for himself as a wide receiver at the University of Texas. The former Longhorn caught 14 receptions for 127 yards over two seasons, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Ultimately, Shanahan realized the best way to be involved in the NFL was to follow in his father, Mike's footsteps, as a coach, and it clearly was the right choice.
McCaffrey, on the other hand, is one of the most dynamic players in the league whom nearly every coach and general manager would use their first pick to acquire. Shanahan knows how uncommon it is for a player with McCaffrey’s level of talent to have the mental approach of an undrafted free agent.
On Thursday, McCaffrey shared that being part of Shanahan’s offense was special and has taught him more than he could have imagined about the game itself. The All-Pro even stated that learning more about the scheme has made him feel like ‘a kid in a candy store.’ when on the field with the offense.”
San Francisco 49ers
“[That] makes me feel like a kid in a candy store,” Shanahan said with a smile. “Sometimes people get bored with it. Sometimes they are ‘Alright, we’ve heard enough. Just let me go home and rest.’
“We got a guy like that, who is also one of the most talented people in the league, that’s the full package. And how much he loves football, and not just with his heart, but with his mind. It’s all he thinks about, is what it seems like.”
It appears that Shanahan and McCaffrey are kindred spirits when it comes to the game of football which makes watching what they will be able to do on the field together even more entertaining.