What will the San Francisco 49ers’ trade for Christian McCaffrey mean for the Kansas City Chiefs as they visit the Bay Area on Sunday?
Late Thursday night it was reported that the San Francisco 49ers had traded for Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. The trade wasn’t all that surprising given the state of the Panthers. A fire sale was expected, and they’ve now unloaded their biggest star.
But the team they traded him to just so happens to be playing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. So what does that mean for the Chiefs as they prepare to face the San Francisco 49ers?
It’s hard to tell considering the timing. It’s possible that McCaffrey won’t be a factor at all since he might not even dress given the late-week nature of the trade. However, reporters around the league say the team is leaning toward the Niners getting at least something from him this weekend to see their investment in action as soon as possible. Here is one example:
McCaffrey isn’t going to have Kyle Shanahan’s playbook memorized by the time the Chiefs visit the Niners at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon. However, McCaffrey is also an intelligent back who has a lot of reps under his belt and, at the end of the day, football is football.
Does that mean the Chiefs should game plan around the running back? Probably not. I’d imagine Andy Reid and Spags have the offense and defense ready to go for whoever they face on Sunday. But hopefully, that game plan includes slowing down the run game, regardless of who is in the 49er backfield, and making sure they’re prepared for the overall threat McCaffrey can be when he’s on the field.
The Chiefs started out the season with pretty solid run defense. For the first time in what has felt like years, it seemed like the D wasn’t just swiss cheese on the ground. over the last few weeks, however, that strong start has eroded, and that’s a little scary going into this week. Why? The 49ers had a pretty solid run game even before McCaffrey.
Kyle Shanahan is one of the few coaches who still regularly uses a fullback to clear holes for his runners, which is why despite his questionable tenure with the 49ers, his backs have always produced decent if not solid numbers. Just ask the Chiefs’ own Jerick McKinnon.
Whether or not McCaffrey plays this weekend, the Chiefs should be focused on stopping the run. Then all they’ll need to worry about is stopping Jimmy G. They’ve done that before, right?