Why 49ers landing McCaffrey intensifies rivalry with Rams


SANTA CLARA — The 49ers' rivalry with the Los Angeles Rams doesn’t just take place on the field — it’s alive and well in the front offices too. 

After the 49ers trade for Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was made official, general manager John Lynch spoke to the media and shared how the process, once again, boiled down to a competition with their division opponent. 

The 49ers and the Rams, along with the Buffalo Bills were the three clubs who seriously pursued the All-Pro running back. When asked if there was added incentive to keep McCaffrey from heading to Southern California, a smile crept across Lynch’s face. 

“I’m glad he’s not there,” Lynch said with a laugh. “That’s always an interesting question because I always say, ‘Hey guys, it’s about us.’ That’s how I was raised. That’s the way Tony Dungy talked. It’s about us. If you’re so focused on your opponents, you’re not going to do very well. 

“But I also know the fastest way to succeed in our league is winning your division. So, in part, it seems like a lot of these situations end up where it’s us against them in these things and I’m sure glad he’s here and not there.” 

The rivalry is not just divisional but also “fraternal” between Kyle Shanahan and Rams Sean McVay who worked under the 49ers' head coach before becoming a head coach himself. While the 49ers appear to have won the battle for McCaffrey, McVay has the ultimate one-up on his mentor — a Super Bowl win.

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While Lynch might be an outsider to the Shanahan and McVay competition, the general manager himself has his own history with Rams general manager Les Snead in acquiring valuable free-agent players. 

Lynch shared that discussion with Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer began while the team was practicing at the Greenbriar in West Virginia during their two-game east coast series. Lynch knew there was no lowballing with Carolina as long as there was interest from Snead. 

“I know their propensity to come in late and go big,” Lynch said. “I was trying to get it done before but that wasn’t going to happen.” 

McCaffrey arrived in Santa Clara on Friday, passed a physical and immediately was on the field with the team during practice but if the 49ers' newest running back will suit up on Sunday vs. the Kansas City Chiefs is still undetermined. 

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