Is the Christian McCaffrey game-plan about to change as the 49ers say, “He doesn’t like to ever come out no matter what the situation is, we have to protect Christian from himself”

49ers HC hints at potential change in Christian McCaffrey’s usage
from Michael Gallagher, with

Christian McCaffrey accounted for nearly 30 percent of the San Francisco 49ers’ total offensive yards last season, 54.5 percent of the team’s rushing attempts and 20 percent of its receptions.

His ability as a do-it-all back is one of the reasons the team traded for him two seasons ago, but it’s also something head coach Kyle Shanahan said can often work to his detriment.

“We have guys that can run the ball — we have to protect Christian from himself,” Shanahan said, via The Athletic. “He doesn’t like to ever come out no matter what the situation is, and I do think that’s something we could protect him with more.”

Getting McCaffrey out of the game since he joined the 49ers mid-season in 2022 hasn’t been easy to do. He played 81 percent of San Francisco’s offensive snaps last season, per Pro Football Reference, and his 21.2 touches per game was second-most behind Kyren Williams of the Los Angeles Rams.

McCaffrey led the league with 339 total touches in 2023, and he’s logged 550 touches in his 27 games as a 49er. Since his rookie year in 2017, McCaffrey ranks first among RBs in receptions (509), third in touches per season (19.8) and seventh in rushing attempts (1,297.)

“When you are such a threat in the pass game, it’s a little bit different,” Shanahan added. “…But if he’s just taking the wear and tear with 20 carries and stuff every game — and he’s definitely good enough to do that and he has proved he can stay healthy — but you’d like to take some of that off of him and give it to other guys also.”

The 49ers have a solid stable of running backs backing up McCaffrey including Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason and rookies Isaac Guerendo and Cody Schrader. Mitchell is just two seasons removed from a 963-yard, five-touchdown rookie season.

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