Some executives around the NFL are expecting San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey to have a big season and earn one of the league’s most prestigious awards at the end of the 2023 season.
Over the last few years, the NFL trade deadline has become far more important than it used to be. In previous decades, few swaps we actually made at the deadline. However, blockbuster deals are far more common now, and arguably the biggest in 2022 was the San Francisco 49ers swinging a major deal for two-time Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey.
Over his first five seasons in the league, the former first-round pick rose to become one of the best running backs in the game. However, some doubt started to creep in about his long-term outlook when injuries hampered his availability in 2020 and 2021. Once he was traded to the 49ers, he returned to the All-Pro form he showed in 2019.
In his 11 games with San Francisco, the 27-year-old racked up 746 on the ground, 464 through the air, and 10 total touchdowns. He had a major impact on the team’s offense and was huge in helping rookie quarterback Brock Purdy successfully adjust to taking on the starting job late in the season.
- Christian McCaffrey stats (2022): 1,139 rushing yards, 85 catches, 741 yards, 10 total TD
AFC exec expects San Francisco 49ers star to have 1,500 rushing yards and 100 catches this season
That is why some NFL executives expect a monster year from McCaffrey in his first full season with Purdy and head coach Kyle Shanahan. On Tuesday, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler spoke to a slew of exes and scouts to get their picks for who will win the league’s top awards this season, and the shared opinion was that McCaffrey will be taking home the coveted Offensive Player of the Year award in 2023.
“He didn’t get to San Francisco until late October last year — he should be way more in tune with the offense early,” one AFC executive said before offering up a bold suggestion for his numbers this season. “1.5K rushing yards and 100 catches should be relatively easy for him.”
A personnel official from an NFC rival added. “He’s the perfect weapon for a quarterback like Brock Purdy.”
Executives and scouts chose Justin Jefferson to win OPTY in the same column last year, which he actually did earn after a historic performance for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022. So that is a very good sign for San Francisco 49ers fans seeing 2023 as a Super Bowl or bust season.