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Christian McCaffrey explains what makes 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan a ‘genius’

Feb 8, 2023 at 4:57 PM

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a reputation for being an offensive genius when it comes to how to attack defenses and overall game planning. One player was abruptly exposed to that genius this season. Christian McCaffrey joined the 49ers via a mid-season trade in October and went through a crash course to learn a new playbook and contribute to his new team.

The running back admits that he's never met anyone like Shanahan.

"I've had some great coaches, and when I came to San Fran, I felt like a full rookie again," McCaffrey told Mike Florio and Chris Simms Wednesday on Pro Football Talk Live. "The things that I learned in the meetings, that I'm still learning in the meetings, and watching him watch tape is one of the coolest experiences I've had as a football player; and to do that every day.

"And when people say he's a genius, and multiple people say he's a genius, it's not shocking to me because that's the word I would use. To do what he's done and to be able to string together different plays that are sustainable constantly in all of his years in the NFL is impressive."

Shanahan is a nominee for AP NFL Coach of the Year, and rightfully so. The coach guided the 49ers to a 13-4 regular-season record and won the NFC West title despite losing two starting quarterbacks along the way. He might have reached the Super Bowl for the second time in four years had his third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy, not suffered an injury in the NFC Championship Game.

Simms asked McCaffrey what specifically impresses him about Shanahan, the coach.

"I think the first thing I learned is he understands all 22 positions and everyone's job on every single play," McCaffrey explained. "He can teach you about the defense just as well as he can teach you about the offense. And he knows exactly where the ball is supposed to go on each play. And there's a purpose to every play, and sometimes the purpose might be to set up another play. And it's the timing in which he calls the play, and it's who he's getting the ball to, and it's when he's getting the ball to me.

"And that's why you can be on your third-string rookie quarterback and still go on a huge run. It's a sustainable offense. It's one that works, and it's one that's worked for a long time, and I'm just extremely happy and revived to be a part of it."

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