NFC West Reporter
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Here are San Francisco 49ers running backs and assistant coach Anthony Lynn describing their team’s dynamic midseason addition to Christian McCaffrey.
Lynn should know, as he played with McCaffrey’s father, Ed McCaffrey, during the Denver Broncos’ back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.
According to Lynn, the super-talented running back shows the same workmanlike traits that his father did when he was in the league.
“He’s definitely a hard-working, respectful young man. And just a great teammate,” Lynn told FOX Sports. “He’s a perfectionist. And we all know as human beings that we’re not perfect. But, as coach (Bill) Walsh used to say, strive for perfection, and if you fail, well, that’s great. And in this league , I will win many games simply by being excellent.
“That’s just his mentality, his personality. He wants to be perfect in everything he does. And I know exactly where he got that from. Both of his parents were incredible athletes. But his dad, he just knew him more than the his mother, his father was exactly like that.”
A former NFL running back and special teams standout who has coached the position in the NFL for two decades, Lynn was in his first season as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers when McCaffrey entered the 2017 NFL draft .Lynn said he evaluated McCaffrey coming out of Stanford.
The Chargers drafted wide receiver Mike Williams at No. 7 that year, one pick before McCaffrey went to the Carolina Panthers at No. 8. The Bolts had already drafted a first-rounder two years earlier in Melvin Gordon.
“I was a little surprised by his ability to run between the tackles,” Lynn said of his pre-draft evaluation of McCaffrey. “I always thought of him as a speed and space guy. But then when you study him and watch him at Stanford, man all they did was run hard. And he ran with a great level of pads . So I said, ‘Man, this young man can run inside, he can run outside. He can attack every hole.’ And when you have a runner like that, you can do a lot of great things.”
Now that he has McCaffrey in his playing room, Lynn and the 49ers are doing a lot of big things with McCaffrey. Since San Francisco secured McCaffrey in a midseason trade from the Panthers in Week 7, the 26-year-old running back has racked up 1,365 scrimmage yards and 12 total touchdowns, including two playoff games.
“We never know what we’re going to get sometimes in terms of coverage because of him,” Lynn said. “Are they going to double him? Are they going to put a DB on him instead of a linebacker? It’s a tough matchup for a linebacker. And when teams try to stop him, other things open up in our offense, like getting the ball. to George Kittle more. Getting our No. 1 receiver Deebo (Samuel) the ball more, things like that.”
McCaffrey has scored touchdowns in eight straight games, tying a franchise record set by wide receiver Terrell Owens.
“It’s been great,” McCaffrey said, when asked what it’s been like working with Lynn. “One of the things that’s so important is understanding the whole offense. And obviously as a coach, being in this league for a long time and playing in it, he understands the concept of the complete game. So he obviously has a lot of wisdom.” .
Lynn said a couple of things have particularly impressed McCaffrey: his ability to run routes like a receiver, his attention to detail and his selflessness.
“What makes him special is his attitude toward doing the dirty work,” Lynn said. “When we put him outside, we ask him to crack (block). We ask him to lead the block. And he’s blocking defenders and safeties in space. And he doesn’t blink.
“I’ve been studying these running backs for so long, and when you get a running back out of the tackle box, a lot of times they’re like a fish out of water. Christian has that unique skill set where you can line him up. out of the inbox, and he can do it comfortably.”
McCaffrey beats Cowboys by TD
Christian McCaffrey was unstoppable as his rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter helped seal a victory over the Cowboys.
Lynn said McCaffrey plays like a perimeter receiver because of his relentless route work ethic, breaking free from the line of scrimmage and making defenders miss.
“He’s not afraid to try something new or different,” Lynn said. “I remember when he first got here, we were talking about running this whip route. And I taught it a certain way my whole life. And he says, ‘What if I do it this way and I get out on my third step instead of my fourth step. And I said, “No, I’ve never seen it done like that.”
“And he did, and I was like, ‘Damn, that looked good.’ So he works at it. He finds ways to separate himself. In this league, we’re all elite athletes. And you’ve got to have some advantages and advantages . And he looks for these things.”
McCaffrey is part of a talented running back room that includes Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, fullback Kyle Juszcyk and, at times, a versatile receiver in Samuel.
Lynn understands Shanahan’s emphasis on running the football goes back to his father Mike Shanahan with the Broncos and the zone run scheme.
However, Shanahan has taken those core principles and put his spin on the modern game, Lynn said. San Francisco has averaged 147 yards per contest through two games this postseason. McCaffrey has 154 rushing yards this postseason.
“A lot of times you’re good at running the football because you’re committed to it,” Lynn said. “A lot of teams talk about bringing the football, but they don’t commit to it. So when you commit to it, you tend to do it better than others because you work at it and you’re very intentional about it.
“Everything Kyle does is very intentional. There’s a reason why he does it on that defense or that front. And it’s always tied to another play, or pass concept, just to keep you honest on the side of the defense of the ball”.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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