Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch: Christian McCaffrey has improved since trade to 49ers

Jan 20, 2023 at 9:23 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers were always impressed with Christian McCaffrey, going back to his pre-draft evaluation in 2017. That's why when rumors started spreading that the Carolina Panthers running back might be available via a trade in October, general manager John Lynch and his staff jumped into action.

Tight end George Kittle remembers when he first heard about the trade.

"I was literally playing video games, and my buddy goes, 'Hey, did you see Twitter? You guys just got Christian McCaffrey,'" Kittle shared last week. "And I said, 'Shut the front door,' and I called [McCaffrey] immediately. He was like, 'I have no idea what's going on.' I was like, 'Neither do I, but welcome to the Niners, man. We're going to have a good time.'"

About 48 hours after arriving in Santa Clara, McCaffrey was suited up and played against the Kansas City Chiefs. He made his first start with his new team a week later against the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco won that game and the 10 that followed, including this past weekend's Wild Card win over the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers already had a lot of weapons on offense, like Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. Adding one more seemed unfair to opposing defenses.

"Did we need it? Nah. I don't know if we needed it," general manager John Lynch said Thursday of the McCaffrey trade on KNBR's Tolbert & Copes show. "And I think those are the most opportune times to make trades or acquisitions, when you don't need it, but man, This could make us different. This could make us special."

McCaffrey's presence has had an impact. The offense has improved, and the 49ers are preparing to face the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the playoffs despite losing two starting quarterbacks this season.

Lynch has been impressed with McCaffrey's work ethic and preparation. The running back instantly became a leader in the locker room. The general manager believes the trade to the 49ers has benefitted McCaffrey. Three months after arriving in Santa Clara, the running back might be even better than he was in Charlotte.

"Kyle's (Shanahan) going to coach everyone hard, and when he makes comments to Christian, Christian listens," Lynch said, "and Christian's become a better football player since being here, and that's kind of cool to watch. It says a lot about who he is."

McCaffrey has registered 1,346 total yards and 11 total touchdowns since the Panthers traded him to the 49ers, including this past weekend's playoff win over the Seahawks.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.


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