49ers make stunner trade for Christian McCaffrey [reports]

© Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are swinging for the fences. Christian McCaffrey is coming back to the Bay.

According to multiple reports, McCaffrey, 26, is being traded to the 49ers in exchange for draft picks. The Panthers have been open sellers after firing Head Coach Matt Rhule following their loss to the 49ers, then falling to 1-5 last week.

The asking price was reportedly two first-rounders. The 49ers didn’t give the Panthers that absurd price, but they gave up a substantial haul. Per Ian Rapoport, they parted with four picks, including three of their top four picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Their first-round pick is with Miami as part of the trade for Trey Lance.

This means the 49ers’ first pick in the upcoming draft will be a compensatory third-round pick, courtesy of the Dolphins hiring Mike McDaniel.

San Francisco is left with that compensatory third-round pick, a fifth-round pick and two seventh-round picks, plus any other picks that come up in the compensatory formula.

The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami reported earlier in the day that the 49ers were frontrunners to land McCaffrey.

This nets Kyle Shanahan arguably the league’s best running back, and someone who will level up the 49ers’ offense, especially given his value as a pass-catchers. It’s also a familiar face for Shanahan, who knows the McCaffrey family well from his time in Denver with Ed McCaffrey; Shanahan may or may not have babysat Christian McCaffrey as a kid.

McCaffrey has dealt with injury issues, playing in just 10 of 33 possible games in 2020 and 2021, but he’s been healthy this season.

When he’s on the field, there’s no questioning his value. He’s averaging 62.2 rush yards and 51.4 receiving yards per game for his career (113.6 yards per game) and 5.8 yards per touch. He’s a home-run hitter, with 50 career touchdowns over 64 games.

As for his contract, the 49ers owe McCaffrey around the minimum for this season. T

The rest of his contract, about $12 million per year for the following three years, is all non-guaranteed, except for the $1 million injury guarantee. That all but assures there will be a substantial contract restructuring. The 49ers, if they choose, could cut McCaffrey for nothing this offseason, or trade him again.

Whether it’s now or later, expect him to restructure his deal.

San Francisco has netted an out-and-out star, who will give the 49ers arguably the league’s best running back, left tackle, tight end, fullback and a top-10 receiver on offense. There’s no longer an excuse for this offense — which could get Trent Williams back this week — which is averaging 20.3 points per game, to fail to produce.

This is a major trade for a team which has sometimes been criticized for being too attached to draft picks while their division rival Rams have a GM who proudly shouts “f**k them picks.” That criticism evaporates with this move.

Oh, and the team they beat out for McCaffrey? The Rams.

Kyle Shanahan clearly wasn’t about to let Sean McVay pull another Matthew Stafford hoodwinking on him. He got his guy, and stacked his offense.


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