Kyle Shanahan wants to ease off 1 star 49ers player

Larry Brown Sports
Kyle Shanahan in a 49ers cap

Oct 3, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan walks on the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan suggested recently that he might want to go a little bit easier on one of his star players.

Shanahan discussed a slight reduction in running back Christian McCaffrey’s workload after the star running back led the league with 339 touches in 2023. Shanahan acknowledged that McCaffrey hates coming out of games, but that the 49ers have a duty to “protect (him) from himself.”

“We have to protect Christian from himself,” Shanahan admitted, via Matt Barrows and David Lombardi of The Athletic. “He doesn’t like to ever come out no matter what the situation is and I do think that’s something we could protect him with more. When you are such a threat in the pass game, it’s a little bit different. … But if he’s just taking the wear and tear with 20 carries and stuff every game — and he’s definitely good enough to do that and he has proved he can stay healthy — but you’d like to take some of that off of him and give it to other guys also.”

McCaffrey was so vital to the 49er offense in 2023 that the team had trouble taking him off the field. He rewarded them with 2,023 all-purpose yards and 21 total touchdowns, but the team would certainly like to have to rely a bit less on him going forward. They managed to avoid any real injuries despite his heavy usage, though there were definitely a few scares.

McCaffrey will probably want to atone for a very big mistake he made in the Super Bowl, but that is why Shanahan is talking about the necessity of protecting him whether he likes it or not.

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