The San Francisco 49ers are so far this season 32nd in the NFL in running back pass targets so Thursday night’s Christian McCaffrey trade will raise that number very soon.
McCaffrey has been a pass target king during during his time with the Carolina Panthers, having over 100 targets three of his five previous seasons.
But will Christian McCaffrey play this Sunday for the 49ers?
Days after his trade from the Carolina Panthers and with little time to digest the game plan?
Yes, possibly barring a significant shift in plans.
Assuming McCaffrey passes his physical Friday — and he wasn’t injured at Carolina so it’s a fair assumption — the 49ers are likely to plug McCaffrey into their lineup at some point in Sundays game against the Kansas City Chiefs in limited packages.
McCaffrey, you’ll recall, attended Stanford University. His dad and mom both attended Stanford. There’s brain cells aplenty in that family — certainly enough for McCaffrey to lock down a handful of routes out of the San Francisco playbook.
No one yet knows the full extent of McCaffrey’s use, least of all the Chiefs, but it won’t be, as one source said, “extensive.” But some use?
Maybe enough to give McCaffrey a handful of routes. And enough to use McCaffrey in pre-snap motions meant to baffle a defense.
McCaffrey, as one NFL source said, has the potential to add new opportunities for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme — which teams have done a better job catching up to this year because of its similarity to the ones run in Miami, Los Angeles, Minnesota and other places.
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