10 dark-horse Super Bowl MVP candidates who aren’t Patrick Mahomes, Brock Purdy

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, 49ers

Here’s something interesting when it comes to history. This will mark only the sixth occasion in which the NFL’s rushing leader will play on Super Sunday. As for the previous five instances, Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith was the first and the most successful. He led the NFL in rushing yards in 1992, ‘93 and ’95, and the league’s all-time ground gainer was part of the Dallas Cowboys championship teams each season (XXVII, XXVIII and XXX).

In 1998, Denver’s Terrell Davis led the NFL in rushing yardage in 1998 and won Super Bowl XXXIII. The last was Seattle’s Shaun Alexander in 2002. He ran for a league-high 1,880 yards, but the Seahawks came up short in Super Bowl XL vs. the Steelers at Detroit.

San Francisco 49ers’ running back Christian McCaffrey tied for the NFL lead with 21 overall touchdowns, and led the NFL in rushing yards (1,459) and total yards from scrimmage (2,023). In five postseason games with the Niners dating back to 2022, he’s touched the ball 100 times and amassed 559 yards from scrimmage and reached the end zone seven times. He bears watching on Super Sunday, especially against a Kansas City defense ranked 18th in the league vs. the run this season.