As the NFL MVP debate heats up with more than one 49ers player included in the conversation, who better to weigh in than a three-time winner of the most prestigious award in the league?
Tom Brady joined the conversation in a recent episode of his "Let's Go!" podcast and was accompanied by 49ers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, whose name has been tossed into the MVP topic alongside teammate and San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy.
“I remember the first time I actually got a glimpse of Christian was in the Rose Bowl," Brady said. "He caught an angle pass against Iowa and ran for about a 75-yard touchdown. I was like, ‘Well, they're not gonna catch him!’ … He was a dynamic player then. He is a dynamic player now, and I think all of what he's done this year is a lot what he's done in the past. It's a different team with some different opportunities and they've been really dynamic on offense.
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"So he is definitely in my mind the MVP favorite and according to his quarterback too, Brock Purdy, who says some amazing things about him. … And I know you'll say, because you're a great team player, the Super Bowl is the only thing that really matters. With the offseason that the running backs have, do you kind of feel like an award like that would be pretty nice?"
McCaffrey -- and the entire 49ers team -- has made it clear they're not worried about winning individual awards -- no matter how big or significant. All San Francisco wants is to get back to the Super Bowl and bring home the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Being acknowledged and even considered for the award, though, means a lot to McCaffrey in terms of representing running backs around the league who recently have expressed disdain for how they've become devalued over time despite a heavy workload.
“Well, I appreciate you saying that, man. That means a lot," McCaffrey said to Brady. "I don't get into all the award stuff, but to your point, I just think even being in the conversation is an honor, and specifically for that reason and the timing of it with running backs and some of the stuff, and I think when you look at the history of the NFL and running backs and where we're at now. Every position other than a couple at some point has kind of had their dips as far as the market goes, and part of it is just fighting against the franchise tag and fighting against different things going on around the league.
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"But, you know, I don't know if that's why it feels good. It does feel good. Obviously, there's still a lot of football left and that's really where my mind's at. But it's cool to see a lot of the other running backs who are having a lot of success as well. … I look at guys around the league who are continuing to have success and that motivates me and continues to push me to compete with them. But also at the same time it's great for the position.”
Brady, a 23-year NFL veteran who retired after the 2022 season, won the MVP award in the 2007, 2010 and 2017 seasons. He finished fifth in MVP voting once, third twice and came in second five times.
But even the GOAT himself said he wasn't ever focused on individual awards as his eyes were always set on the prize of reaching the Super Bowl -- which he did 10 times, won it seven and was crowned Super Bowl MVP five times.
“Yeah, I mean, I felt like I was a lot like Christian," Brady said. "I felt like the team awards were -- which was ultimately winning championships -- was what it was all about. You can have a great individual year and you could be a really good player on a bad team, which is not very much fun.
"I think for me it was always about celebrating the success with other players and the best moments weren't accepting a trophy, an MVP trophy. It was accepting a Super Bowl ring with all the people that played a part of that.”
Both McCaffrey and Purdy have made strong cases for the award this season as the 49ers sit with an 11-3 record after their NFC West-clinching victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
After the win, Purdy's odds of winning the award skyrocketed to -210, with Lamar Jackson (+450) and Dak Prescott (+700) behind him, via odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.
The 49ers' second-year quarterback, however, advocated for McCaffrey to win the award after another big performance in Arizona.
“I think Christian should be MVP,” Purdy said after the game. “I really do believe that. He does everything for us. Runs the ball well, can catch the ball, he does everything. In my eyes, that’s the MVP.”
Brady doesn't believe Trent Williams would win the MVP award, but he would like to see the 49ers' star offensive tackle receive some type of recognition for his "unbelievable" contributions on the offensive line.
“Yeah, if I had my vote, it'd be Brock as the MVP and Trent would be the second in line," McCaffrey said.
In his first season since retiring from the game, Brady has a vote for the NFL MVP this year. While he believes McCaffrey is the clear favorite to take home the award, McCaffrey tried to change his mind.
“Do you? Well, vote for Brock, man. That guy deserves it, man," McCaffrey said. "I know, obviously you respect that. He’s been unbelievable for this team and I hate when I hear people say anything negative, ‘Oh, he's just a system quarterback.’ Everyone's a system quarterback. That's part of what being a quarterback is in my eyes. I mean, I don't know much about the position. I try to stay in my lane and just try to get open and block and do all the other things. But I mean, when you play within a system that's about all you can ask for. And then occasionally you make the plays outside of the X's and O's and that's all he's done all year. So he gets my vote.”
“I think that's why football's the best game on the planet earth is because you don't have to be a talker. You don't have to be a speech guy before the game. It doesn't matter what you do or what you say, all that matters is the silent tape. And when you turn the tape on the next day, you can tell who loves you and it's the biggest example of love when somebody's doing something unselfish for you and asking for nothing in return. And that happens all over the football field all the time on these good teams."