Christian McCaffrey is going back to Cali.
The Panthers announced Thursday night they traded the star running back to the 49ers for a package that includes a haul of draft picks. In return, per reports, Carolina will receive second-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2025.
The NFL Network reported that the Rams, the Niners’ division rival, also had been in talks about acquiring McCaffrey from Carolina, which reportedly wanted a first-round pick.
Instead, the sixth-year pro came as a bit of a bargain. The 49ers will owe McCaffrey just $690,000 for the rest of this season and $12 million for each of the next three seasons through 2025, with just $1 million guaranteed for injury. That may come in handy as McCaffrey played in just 10 of 33 games the past two seasons, though he has not missed time in 2022.
McCaffrey already had spoken to the 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan and will join the team Friday, according to NFL Network. It is possible he will play Sunday against the Chiefs. If so, he would be used in red-zone packages before expanding his role, the NFL Network reported.
McCaffrey suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 12 last season. This year, he has 85 carries for 393 yards and two touchdowns. The dual threat also has 33 catches for 277 yards and a touchdown.
The 26-year-old McCaffrey will return to the area where he played college ball. He was drafted in the first round, eighth overall, in 2017 out of Stanford. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2019 and a second-team All-Pro the previous season.
The Panthers have gotten off to a disappointing 1-5 start, as Baker Mayfield has failed to reignite his career in Charlotte, N.C. The team fired head coach Matt Rhule earlier this month, and shipped Robbie Anderson to Arizona after the wideout was thrown out of the team’s game against the Rams last Sunday by interim head coach Steve Wilks.
The 49ers added to a team considered on the fringe of Super Bowl contention. Earlier this season, they lost starting running back Elijah Mitchell, to an MCL injury and put him on IR. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters this week that they hope to get Mitchell back in the first week of November.
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