The 49ers gave up a wealth of draft picks for superstar running back Christian McCaffrey midway through the 2022 NFL season, and coach Kyle Shanahan vows there are no regrets.
“You look back at last year and it’s, ‘Thank God,’” Shanahan said on Tuesday. “How could you even hesitate on anything? It’s a no-brainer. But you never know the future of it.”
San Francisco sent a second-, third-, and fourth-round pick in 2023 and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for McCaffrey.
The McCaffrey trade could have depleted the 49ers of their 2023 NFL Draft picks, but compensatory picks from the departures of free agent players as well as the promotion of several minority coaching candidates replenished the team's initial total of picks to 11.
The risk paid off in spades. In his 11 regular-season appearances, McCaffrey carried the ball 159 times for 746 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The All-Pro also caught 52 of his 65 targets for 464 receiving yards and an additional four scores.
Still, the decision wasn’t easy.
“You’re always hesitant just because there’s risks in everything,” Shanahan said. “You know how good of a player he is, and when you have an opportunity to get a player like that you want to look into all of it. Not just the player, but how it fits to the whole contract of your salary cap.”
San Francisco 49ers
Shanahan shared that while others in the building believed he had an inside track on what kind of person and player McCaffrey was, the two didn’t actually know each other well.
Shanahan was closer to McCaffrey’s parents from their time with the Denver Broncos when Kyle’s father, Mike, coached Ed McCaffrey for a span of nine seasons.
“You got to look at what it means to give up those picks and you don’t worry at all about how good he is, but there’s also luck to it,” Shanahan said. “You got to stay healthy, things got to go, so it’s always a risk.”
Since McCaffrey’s arrival in the Bay Area, the 49ers only lost two games — his first, the Week 7 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs, and the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shanahan clearly has no regrets.
“Having him since then, not just how he’s been on the field and in practice but understanding the person, feels so good what we gave up to get him, and knowing he’s a 49er,” Shanahan said.