Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have gradually turned the 49ers into one of the NFL’s best teams since joining in 2017, but the mid-season trade for running back Christian McCaffrey in October 2022 took them to another level.
He hit the ground running, literally, and is also a threat in the passing game. Last season he even threw a touchdown pass too. He can pretty much do it all. Including the play-offs, McCaffrey leads the league with 24 touchdowns.
McCaffrey’s move from Carolina also completed some neat family links. His father Ed was a wide receiver who helped San Francisco to their last Super Bowl win in 1995, before winning two more with Denver.
The Broncos were coached by Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, and the families were close. It was rumoured a teenage Kyle used to babysit Christian, although it turns out his sister was actually in charge., external
“I was so close with Christian’s dad growing up,” said Kyle Shanahan. “Him and Rod Smith were the two receivers on the Broncos, and I’d meet them after school to run routes and do workouts.
“Then it was just so funny watching Christian over the years. I just couldn’t believe how talented he was. But I also knew his dad and how psychotic he was with his work ethic and attention to detail.
“That’s what’s been so neat, trading for Christian and actually getting to know him. I feel like I’m watching Ed half the time.”