Kyle Shanahan on Christian McCaffrey’s health, how new 49ers RB fits on offense

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The trade for former Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey sent shockwaves through the Bay Area and across the NFL landscape. As a result, the 3-3 San Francisco 49ers are thrust back into the Super Bowl contender conversation.

It’s worth noting that after an All-Pro and Pro Bowl campaign in 2019, McCaffrey missed a combined 23 games in 2020 and 2021. So did concerns about the running back’s health make the 49ers hesitant to complete the deal?

“I know it’s an issue, but I have injury concerns for every single player on our team,” Shanahan said on KNBR Murph and Mac show. “And it happens, and it really is the riskiest part of our sport. If I always thought [like] that with every player I think I’ll be frozen and never be able to make up my mind.

“So that’s the hardest thing about our deal and that’s why you can never go too high or too low, whatever your team’s situation is, whatever you think your team is. It changes every day and you have to be able to adapt to it.

“That’s why it’s great to get Christian here, who I know can help us a lot in the run game.” I think he can help us a lot in the passing game. I think he will be great on defenses. But I also know that we better have other really good full-backs because this is football and things like that happen. I see the same at tight end, receiver. You don’t like to see him that way as a quarterback, but you look at our six years here, and that’s been a quarterback for us every year except one.”

Shanahan and the 49ers could have had McCaffrey since 2017. But instead, the team selected defensive end Solomon Thomas. However, the 49ers scouted McCaffrey in the offseason, and the one area they weren’t concerned about was the running back’s health.

“Injuries are going to happen,” Shanahan continued. “That’s why we have to have depth. I know when you look at a player like Christian, medically coming out of college, we have the highest medical grade on him of any player we’ve ever had since we’ve been here. He has never had any injuries. He was the purest man we could have. And it all started like that for two years in the NFL — the first three years, I think.

“I know the last two years haven’t been the same, but watching him this year, he’s back to full health, he looks like the same guy coming out of college, and I know we’ve got a tough right tackle who take care of your body as best you can. I’d put it down to that [defensive end Nick] Bose level. It’s just the way he was brought up, the way he looked at everything. It’s a 100 percent commitment to being the best he can be at what he does, and he’s been doing that since he was probably three years old.”

So where does that leave the 49ers rotation? Jeff Wilson Jr. carries the load after Elijah Mitchell’s injury. However, Mitchell is expected to return after the bye week.

“I’m not sure yet,” Shanahan said. “I’m going to think about it based on when that time comes, who’s available, what defenses we’re playing and how to really figure out how to win the game. I know people get so excited about all these things that we do and. My biggest thing as a coach is to not get caught up and [say], “Hey, we gotta show this guy. We have to show this guy. We need to set goals for this person. We need to put the targets on this guy.

“When you start thinking like that, you get into trouble and you don’t focus on what’s the best way to win. We have a lot of good receivers. We have some good tight ends. you have good running backs. When you attack a defence, you try to deploy them in the best possible way and it usually ends up taking care of itself in the long run if you play good football. But I’m just glad there’s not a lot of wrong decisions you can make when you get those guys out there, really holding the ball.”

You can listen to the entire conversation with Shanahan below.

General manager John Lynch spoke to reporters Friday as the San Francisco 49ers practiced. The topic of discussion was the 49ers new running back. On Thursday night, the team agreed to terms for a trade for Christian McCaffrey. The deal became official Friday after the running back passed his physical. Lynch said the team’s focus is on this weekend’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the 49ers are excited to acquire the All-Pro player. “You’ve got to hit when you get the chance, and I can’t tell you how excited we are to have Christian McCaffrey on our team,” Lynch said. “We’ve been working on this for a while and it all came to fruition last night. It took a long time to get him, but I think he’s worth it

Every week we open up the 49ers mailbag for fans to ask questions or get things off their chest. We answer as many as we can. Sometimes that means most questions and comments. And sometimes, like this week (or other weeks that follow a disappointing loss), there are just too many to get to. I love the passion of 49ers fans. And I appreciate all your great questions. So let’s get to it. Here are my answers to your questions and comments. Danny Gray was a full participant in practice late last week, but why was he a healthy scratch on Sunday when we could have used his speed to stretch the top of Atlanta’s defense? Plus, why were we interested in trading for Christian McCaffrey when (1) our RBs don’t catch enough passes out of the backfield to

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined KNBR this morning, speaking publicly for the first time since the trade of Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey. What was the coach’s reaction last night when general manager John Lynch told him the 49ers made the deal? “It was more of a big smile and then like, ‘Okay, I have to go back and redo third downs, red zone redo, redo everything.’ And then it was like, ‘Wait a minute. He still has to come and pass the physical. He won’t be at practice.” Does this mean Shanahan expects McCaffrey to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs? “I’m still in awe of whether we’re going to be able to get him here for Sunday or not,” Shanahan said. “I know about

When trade rumors circulated, there was talk that former Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey could be a good one-year pickup for a Super Bowl contender looking to add another explosive weapon. Maybe a team like the Buffalo Bills. After all, his remaining salary for 2022 was low and none of his future money is guaranteed. Panthers general manager Scott Fetterer said this morning that he has received three firm offers for McCaffrey. Trade talks were complicated by teams either not owning a first-round pick or, for those that did, unwilling to give it up. Fitter: The trade negotiations were complicated

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