In a surprise move last season, two-time Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
After the shock from the trade from the Carolina Panthers wore off and the dust settled, McCaffrey said changing teams was the “best thing that ever happened” to him.
On Friday, the star running back attempted to clarify his comments during an appearance on “Good Morning Football.”
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“I was thrown to the fire pretty quickly,” McCaffrey said. “I think early on in practice when I was in the huddle with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Juszczyk and all these guys, I felt like I was on a Pro Bowl roster. It hit me that this was a special team.”
McCaffrey added that he knew he had the opportunity to be a part of something special in San Francisco.
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“I was very fortunate to come into a team that built a culture and had taken time to build a culture,” he said. “To add on top of the roster, in my opinion, some of the best coaches in the NFL and guys who know how to use players like myself and have been doing it for so long.
“I just felt very fortunate to be a part of something that was already so developed, so to say, and, like I said, a culture that was established.”
But the 26-year-old wanted to make it clear his remarks were not meant to slight the Panthers.
“I do want to make it clear that was nothing against Carolina when I said that,” McCaffrey said. “I have no bad blood, and I love everybody there. I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates there and a lot of the coaches who I had the privilege of playing for there.”
McCaffrey had instant success upon his arrival in the Bay Area. He gave head coach Kyle Shanahan a valuable weapon out of the backfield, and he helped lift the Niners to the NFC championship game.
But the 49ers had several key injuries throughout the season. Ultimately, injuries to quarterbacks became too much for San Francisco to overcome in the NFC title game.
The team will enter the 2023 season with expectations for another deep run in the playoffs, and McCaffrey is confident the roster is well-equipped to get the job done.
“I think this is a part of a team that, regardless of what that outcome (NFC championship game) was, we would still be so hungry for more,” McCaffrey said. “The way these guys show up to work every day. Obviously, we have moved on from it now. It’s still definitely in the back of your head. When you get that close and lose, it definitely fuels a fire and makes you want to get back there again. So, I think guys are hungry, and guys are ready to roll despite the outcome of that game.
“Obviously, when you lose it’s a little bit more. But it’s been so cool to see the offseason turn out. The way guys are working and coming together. I’m excited.”
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