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Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Shanahan on Mitchell, McCaffrey: “There’s not one run that one guy can do that the other guy can’t”

Nov 16, 2022 at 10:01 AM--

Sunday night was San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell's first game back since suffering an MCL sprain in Week 1. While he was sidelined, the 49ers pulled off a blockbuster trade, acquiring running back Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers.

Mitchell entered Sunday's matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers knowing the game plan called for him and McCaffrey to split the workload. Mitchell led the team with 89 rushing yards on 18 carries, while McCaffrey finished with 38 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, adding four catches for 39 receiving yards.

"We could be the best duo backs in the league, in my opinion," Mitchell said after the 49ers' 22-16 win.

McCaffrey received 11 of the 49ers' first 16 carries, while Mitchell had 13 of the last 16 in the game.

"I really don't mind at all, when it's a run play, who's in," head coach Kyle Shanahan said this morning on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "Both of those guys, to me, can run the ball at a very high level, and their skill sets are pretty similar. I mean, they have a little bit different style, but there's not one run that one guy can do that the other guy can't do.

"We went into that game saying, 'In a perfect world, when this game is done, it would be awesome if they could have even carries.' We thought that would be hard because Christian's just going to be in there a little bit more, especially on third down and stuff.

"I told [assistant head coach and running backs coach] Anthony [Lynn] that if it ended up that way, close to even, that would be a hell of a job substituting, which he was trying to do. Then towards the end, we got in those long drives, and we were kind of hammering it out. He left him in there for a while, and I thought it was a good decision."

The radio hosts asked Shanahan about the NBC broadcast, which repeatedly showed McCaffrey on the sideline, leaving many to wonder why the running back the 49ers traded so much draft capital for wasn't playing. Mitchell's success helped resist the urge to play McCaffrey more, though.

First, the coach humorously noted that he does not watch television broadcasts during games.

"And I don't think about what everyone is urging during the game," Shanahan continued. "I get it. Everyone's going to have their opinion, but those are the things that—I've just done this for a while, and I'm pretty blacked out to those types of things during the game."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.


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