While the sports world was tuned in to other events, the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers shook things up with Christian McCaffrey.
The Los Angeles Lakers had just tied the rival Clippers going into the half when suddenly Christian McCaffrey began trending on Twitter.
That’s because, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, McCaffrey, a graduate of Stanford, is returning to the Bay Area after the Carolina Panthers traded him to the San Francisco 49ers for a bevy of draft picks.
NFL Trade Grades: 49ers – C+
This is not a move you make unless you are going all in on the talent currently sitting on your roster. In the case of the San Francisco 49ers, they are a team that feels they have a Super Bowl contender at this very moment. At the same time, they got Christian McCaffrey out of a bad situation and brought him into an advantageous landscape.
San Francisco was in the Super Bowl just a few years ago against the team they face this week, the Kansas City Chiefs. Moreover, the West Coast outside zone scheme that Kyle Shanahan implements is a system that gets the best out of one-cut running backs, which, coincidentally, describes McCaffrey in a nutshell.
He grew up in that system, and his father, Ed, won two Super Bowls in that system while in Denver, who was coached by Mike Shanahan. Additionally, running backs coach Bobby Turner has a reputation for working well with running backs, so this works out. The draft capital lost is quite a significant risk, but one the 49ers were willing to take.
NFL Trade Grades: Panthers – B
The reason the grade isn’t higher is that the offense of the Panthers took a loss with this point. Yes, the draft pick capital that comes with this is quite an impressive haul, with three picks this year and one next year, but this is yet another indication that the Panthers are in fire-sale mode.
Given the current state of affairs, it would not be a surprise to see the franchise give away other young stars like DJ Moore, Brian Burns, and Derrick Brown, for starters. Shaq Thompson has also had his name mentioned in talks. Still, even if Scott Fitterer isn’t around as general manager next year, at least he is leaving his successor with more draft capital to work with, and for that, he deserves credit.
Still, Fitterer’s tenure with the Panthers has been very disappointing, to put it kindly. But, pulling off this type of deal means that he wants this franchise to have more swings at the plate in an attempt to succeed, even if he is not around to see it. This may be just the beginning of an all-out shipping spree, and Carolina looks open for business.