Christian McCaffrey is expected to make his San Francisco 49ers debut Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
McCaffrey’s availability comes just three days after the 49ers and Carolina Panthers agreed to a blockbuster trade for the star running back and just two days after he flew to San Francisco and joined his new employer.
The 49ers have a package of plays in Sunday’s game plan for McCaffrey, who has picked up what he could of the offense quickly, sources told Schefter.
It’s one reason the 49ers and Los Angeles Rams were as interested in trading for McCaffrey as they were — both teams valued his football IQ and the Rams even considered him to be, as one source described, “the Cooper Kupp of running backs.”
The night the 49ers acquired McCaffrey they considered it unlikely that their new running back would be ready to face the Chiefs. But McCaffrey immersed himself in the 49ers’ offense shortly after the teams agreed to the deal, which saw San Francisco send second-, third- and fourth-round picks in 2023 and a fifth-round selection in 2024 to Carolina.
McCaffrey had said Friday that the decision on his playing status would be up to the team, with coach Kyle Shanahan adding that it would have more to do with whether he could quickly learn enough of the playbook to contribute and nothing to do with how he’s feeling physically.
The 26-year-old McCaffrey missed 23 of 33 games in 2020 and ’21 after being injury-free his first three NFL seasons. This year, he played 85% of Carolina’s snaps, and his 670 yards from scrimmage rank fourth in the NFL.
The 49ers, who have been injury plagued this season, will welcome several notables back Sunday against the Chiefs, including defensive end Nick Bosa (groin), left tackle Trent Williams (ankle), defensive back Jimmie Ward (hand) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (calf).