Christian McCaffrey has arrived in San Francisco and is getting right to work with hopes of playing on Sunday. Whether he gets in the game or not is to be determined, but he will be wearing a different number either way.
McCaffrey, who was traded west out of Carolina on Thursday, joined the 49ers for his first practice with his new team on Friday. The 26-year-old has worn No. 22 throughout his entire professional career after being drafted by the Panthers with the eighth-overall pick in 2017.
That is no longer the case. McCaffrey is now No. 23.
Blockbuster trades like the one that went down with the two-time First-Team All-Pro running back rarely occur during the middle of the season. It makes things tricky.
McCaffrey does not have any knowledge of the San Francisco playbook. He doesn’t know how to work within the offense. He has no chemistry with any of his new teammates.
Those factors make it very difficult to imagine that he could play in his first game with his new team on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean that McCaffrey isn’t going to try. He’s wants to be on the field and his game-changing athleticism makes it hard not to put him out there.
Will Christian McCaffrey play for the 49ers on Sunday?
The decision on whether McCaffrey will get on the field or not is up to head coach Kyle Shanahan. It seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened.
“He just got his cleats and helmet,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch. “He just got off the plane. It’s a tall order and we’ll do what’s right for Christian and our team. It’s a tall order. We’ll see how much we can accelerate this. He’s asking to [play].”
While discussing the trade for the first time on Friday, Lynch spoke about how the deal went down.
First and foremost, he talked about what McCaffrey brings to the team and why he wanted him in the Bay Area.
Lynch was also asked about McCaffrey’s recent injury struggles. He is not concerned with the past and believes that his new ball-carrier established his health through the first six games of 2022.
As for the trade negotiations, Lynch said that the conversation began after his team stomped the Panthers on the second Sunday in October.
He also added that the conversations with the Panthers intensified after the Rams showed interest in McCaffrey and said that he is thrilled that he didn’t end up in Los Angeles.
Only time will tell whether McCaffrey is on the field on Sunday, but the 49ers got their guy. Even if he isn’t “fully ready,” it seems like there is a way to work him into the game in some capacity.