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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Why Christian McCaffrey is labeled the ‘heartbeat’ of the 49ers

Jun 10, 2024 at 2:33 PM

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Christian McCaffrey has gained even more notoriety since a mid-season trade in 2022 sent him from the Carolina Panthers to the San Francisco 49ers. Last season, the star running back amassed 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns on his way to being named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

The 49ers rewarded McCaffrey's efforts with a contract extension that will keep him signed through the 2027 season.

Chris Foerster, the 49ers' run game coordinator and offensive line coach, spoke to fans at the team's "State of the Franchise" event about McCaffrey's importance to the team.

"He's obviously the offensive MVP for a reason," an enthusiastic Foerster shared to a delighted crowd. "He's a great football player. He could probably do everything, whether he's a blocker, whether he's a runner, whether he's a pass catcher, whether he's a route runner at receiver, running back, whatever it is. He can do everything but play offensive line on this team.

"And so the fact that he can do all these different things makes him [multi-faceted]. You can use him in so many different ways. [Head coach] Kyle's [Shanahan] able to use him in so many different ways and plug him in the offense, and he becomes a matchup problem for defenses."

Foerster didn't want to diminish the value of the other running backs on the roster but acknowledged that McCaffrey is a unique impact player.

"[Our other backs] have traits that are good at certain things, but Christian is dynamic in every single area of his game," Foerster declared. "And the thing that's made him different—again, this is all credit to Christian—he's a great player, but he wasn't the offensive MVP until he got here, and when somebody plugged him into the right spots and put him in the right places."

Foerster added that, with the 49ers, McCaffrey was given the opportunity to prove his value. He demonstrated that he could excel at any task.

"And then to the credit to everybody else in this building, whether it be the strength staff, the recovery staff that helps with his physical training, everything else to make sure this guy's healthy every week," Foerster continued. "I mean, the beating this guy takes week in and week out, more touches than anybody in football, and still comes back every single week, playing hard. He is the heartbeat of this football team. He does everything right and does everything well."
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