Star Running Back Christian McCaffrey is sent to the Bay
Trade talks have evolved in the last couple of weeks for star RB Christian McCaffrey. On the night of October 20, 2022, the Panthers made a hard decision for the whole organization. McCaffrey was sent to the San Francisco 49ers for a handful of draft picks. While some fans were relieved, expressing “it was about time”, most fans feel as if the team is at a total loss now. While it’s understandable it was simply a business deal, the face of the franchise is now gone. Here’s a recollection of the impact McCaffrey has made in the Carolinas– on and off the field:
McCaffrey saying a quick prayer at the Panthers tunnel before warming up versus the Cardinals (Kelli Blackburn, 10/2/2022)
Draft Day: April 27th, 2017
McCaffrey was taken 8th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, PA. He was introduced by Panthers legend Thomas Davis. Many people knew CMC from his all star career playing at Stanford through his college days, along with the fact his dad, Ed McCaffrey, had played in the NFL with the Giants, Broncos, and– 49ers. McCaffrey didn’t get a starting spot off the bat, due to veteran Jonathan Stewart being RB1 in Carolina. CMC still finished the season off with 435 yards rushing and 651 yards receiving. So, not too shabby for the rookie.
CMC’s MVP Year: 2019
Everyone gave Christian their respect when he had a heck of a season in 2019. CMC finished the season with 19 touchdowns and 1K+/1K+ yards (1,387 yards rushing and 1,005 yards receiving). He had 2,392 scrimmage yards, which topped the NFL in 2019 and had the third-most in a single season in NFL history. McCaffrey was seen as a finalist for MVP or OPOY, but was beat out for both. He received an award at the NFL Honors for Fantasy Player of the Year and was selected for his first Pro Bowl in Orlando, although he didn’t attend due to sickness. CMC’s stats weren’t one to beat that year, and from there, he continued to flourish when on the field.
CMC was ruled out of the 2020 season due to multiple rough injuries. He missed four games for his thigh, four for his shoulder, then six after what was known as a high-ankle sprain. He finished the season with 225 yards rushing with 5 touchdowns, then 149 yards receiving with only 1 touchdown. Though many were expecting the running back to be back for the 2021 season, he still struggled as he suffered a strained hamstring through 5 games. Once he was back, he was ruled out for the remainder of the season after suffering an injury from rolling his ankle. In 2021, he rushed for 442 yards with 1 touchdown and had 343 yards receiving with 1 touchdown. CMC worked continuously through the offseason to be prepared for the 2022 season, making sure small injuries wouldn’t hold him back any longer.
Everyone was ecstatic to have McCaffrey back on the field for the 2022 season. When asked, he said he felt great and was ready to work. It obviously showed on the field, although the team itself struggled through the QB situation, along with play calling from new OC Ben McAdoo. Christian finished his 5 ½ years in Carolina with 393 yards rushing for 2 touchdowns with 277 yards receiving for 1 touchdown in the beginning of the 2022 season. Through Matt Rhule’s firing and receiver Robbie Anderson’s trade to Arizona, it was only a matter of time before GM Fitterer made the move to trade Christian. There had been much speculation even through the 2021 season that teams had made calls to Carolina about him, but the Panthers didn’t budge until they saw it was time they had to. On October 21, 2022, McCaffrey touched down in the Bay, leaving Panthers fans with a message for his goodbye and the organization with a 2023 second round pick, a 2023 third round pick, a 2023 fourth rounder, and a 2024 fifth rounder in the Draft.
He played in his first game as a 49er on Sunday, October 23. McCaffrey had 40 scrimmage yards as they took a loss to the Chiefs by a score of 44-23.
(NBC Sports Bay Area)
He’s expected to get more touches in the upcoming weeks, whereas Carolina’s Hubbard and Foreman will continue the run game workload for the Panthers.
Christian wasn’t just a star athlete for the Panthers; he was a person the city of Charlotte and the Carolinas appreciated. There was more to him as a person than just how he performed on the field.
McCaffrey, the Man to Admire
CMC launched his foundation, the Christian McCaffrey Foundation, to reach out to others who help serve in the U.S. One current initiative the running back has launched includes 22 and You, a fundraising effort he started at the rise of the COVID pandemic in March of 2020. He works to support front line workers, aimed directly in the Carolinas and his hometown of Denver, CO. Christian has also worked with former teammate Shaq Thompson in 22 and Together to use sports as a way to serve underserved youth and create change around the Charlotte area. McCaffrey has always been a man to help members of the military as well, especially through his initiative 22 and Troops. The most recent piece that McCaffrey has added to his organization is The Logan Project, in memoriam of Logan Preston Hale. The 13 year old boy lost his fight to cancer in late 2021, but had an undying love for the Panthers and CMC. His goal was to provide other kids undergoing medical treatments gaming devices and kiosks as a way to stay in touch and feel “normal” with their friends. Christian took the boys goal and launched the project where they now raise money for gaming consoles to be installed through children’s hospitals around the country. He visited Levine’s Children’s Hospital in July of 2022 with teammates Jeremy Chinn and Shaq Thompson to spend time playing games with kids, making them feel the normalcy Logan wanted them to have.
The Christian McCaffrey Foundation has already made a statement that they will continue their efforts through the Carolinas, along with Denver, and now San Francisco.
For more information about the foundation, or to donate, the link is listed here: https://www.christianmccaffrey22.org/
To Christian, his family, along with his girlfriend, Olivia Culpo, the Carolinas will always be a special place for them. Olivia has expressed her love for Charlotte and the home she and McCaffrey have made over the last couple of years in a video:
(TikTok / @oliviadangerculpo)
We as fans thank CMC for the man he is and was for the Carolinas. He will dearly be missed, but we wish him the best of luck in California, and hope he continues to thrive and win a ring.
Maybe one day, just as Panther legend Cam Newton did, Christian will come back to play for the team one last time. Even if he did as Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis did, he will retire as a Panther. Who knows, but all we hope is that both teams, the 49ers and the Panthers, will find success.