The San Francisco 49ers traded for versatile running back Christian McCaffrey with the Carolina Panthers only a couple of weeks ago, but that move is already paying dividends.
The Panthers may have gotten a second-round pick in the NFL Draft for McCaffrey, but the Niners got much more after the player scored the rarest of touchdown hat-tricks against reigning Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams. And it’s been only two games into McCaffrey’s tenure in the Bay Area.
Only the Fourth Player in NFL History to Throw, Run, and Receive Touchdowns
McCaffrey is only the fourth player since the 1970 football league merger to throw, run, and receive touchdowns, and to do that in the same game. The late Walter Payton scored the famous touchdown trifecta in 1979. David Patten did the same in 2001, and Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlison was the last player to tally the rare TD hat-trick.
More importantly, each of the touchdowns McCaffrey scored was of great importance for his team. All of them came after the half-time break and helped turn a four-point deficit into an emphatic 31-14 victory for the Niners.
Victory More Important for McCaffrey than Individual Achievements
However, when McCaffrey was asked whether he would celebrate his rare hat-trick achievement, the always humble Colorado native said that he was happy his team won and that mattered more than any individual accomplishment.
McCaffrey admitted that bagging the hat trick was “cool” but that the biggest thing on the day for him was the win and the Niners’ phenomenal second-half performance. He also didn’t forget to say how proud he was to be a 49er and how good it felt to get that win.
Exactly the Player the 49ers Needed
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was delighted with his new running back. Shanahan reportedly babysat when McCaffrey was a child, while his father Mike Shanahan was coaching the Denver Broncos where McCaffrey’s father played.
The Niners’ head coach said that everyone knew how good McCaffrey was and that he was consistent and under control in everything he did. Shanahan noted that McCaffrey’s football intelligence and consistency made him a great fit for the 49ers, and the player’s emphatic start to his San Francisco career is a testament to that.