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49ers coach gives cryptic response when asked about Christian McCaffrey’s absence

May 22, 2024 at 5:26 PM

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This week, Christian McCaffrey was a surprising absence as the San Francisco 49ers kicked off organized team activities (OTAs). While head coach Kyle Shanahan shared that he isn't too concerned about his missing star player, he didn't offer a reason for the absence.

When asked if McCaffrey's absence was business-related, Shanahan responded, "I'm not sure if that is the case on any of those guys [who aren't here]. ... But it is all voluntary, so we'll see when it becomes mandatory."

Everything up to this point has been voluntary. The 49ers won't require their players to be in attendance until a mandatory minicamp in early June and then, of course, training camp in late July.

Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area spoke to running backs coach Bobby Turner, asking about McCaffrey's whereabouts.

Turner offered a somewhat cryptic response, stating, "Physically, he's not here, but he's here in every other aspect. That's the business part, and I'm not getting into that."

While the NBC Sports Bay Area reporter goes on to speculate that McCaffrey's absence might be contract-related, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that, according to a source, that is not the case. However, Florio doesn't dismiss the possibility that money might eventually become an issue. McCaffrey is set to earn $11.8 million during the upcoming season and is the highest-compensated running back in the NFL in terms of average salary.

"While that's great as running backs go, McCaffrey is more than a running back," Florio notes. "He's the most important non-quarterback on the team's offense. But he's paid less than receiver Deebo Samuel or tight end George Kittle."

There is no doubt that McCaffrey has been one of the 49ers' most impactful players since a trade in 2022 sent him from the Carolina Panthers to the Bay Area squad. The running back amassed an impressive 2,023 all-purpose yards and 21 total touchdowns last season. Is there still room for growth?

On this, Turner was more forthcoming, responding, "Christian wants to get better every day. And my job, along with the other coaches, but starting with me, since I'm the position coach, is to make sure—he doesn't want to be in a comfort zone and a low-performance level. His standards are very high. And every day, we're looking for him to improve."

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