49ers go full Rams with McCaffrey trade after Lance injury shifts direction – The Denver Post


Rams GM Les Snead’s disregard for draft picks has grown contagious after Los Angeles rode its calculated risk-taking to a Super Bowl parade last February.

The NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers emptied the vault on Thursday to land Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

They gave up second, third and fourth-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, plus a 2024 fifth-rounder for a talented but injury-prone, 26-year-old runner.

The Niners already had traded three first-round picks and a third in 2021 to draft quarterback Trey Lance No. 3 overall, and he’s now on injured reserve.

Unquestionably, the Rams’ example and direct competition in the McCaffrey sweepstakes brought them to this point. Head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted as much on Friday.

“It’s definitely a bonus,” Shanahan said of beating the Rams out for McCaffrey. “It’s nice to keep a good player away from the team that we have to compete with year in and year out.”

It has never been more urgent in the NFL for GMs and coaches to win now. Niners GM John Lynch and Shanahan are in year six in northern California, which means there is no time like the present to make a run.

The 49ers haven’t exactly sat on their hands in the past: they pursued Odell Beckham Jr. when he was a Giant; and Shanahan coveted Kirk Cousins early in his Niners’ tenure, just to name a couple of instances when their radar was up.

What is fascinating about the 49ers’ aggressiveness here in Oct. 2022, though, is how Lance’s early-season injury changed their direction and strategy.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t even practicing in the summer because the team had turned the offense over to Lance. They were going to develop the first-round QB, live with some growing pains, and likely trade Garoppolo once he got healthy.

But when Lance got hurt, Garoppolo reclaimed the starting job and altered the organization’s expectations along with it.

The 49ers are only 3-3, and they’re terribly banged up with injuries. But they have one of the NFC’s best rosters. They’ve been to a Super Bowl recently with Garoppolo at QB.

And the Rams have stumbled out of the gate with a battered offensive line, opening the door for Lynch and Shanahan to strike.

The McCaffrey trade brings some interesting storylines: Mike Shanahan once coached wide receiver Ed McCaffrey with the Broncos and 49ers; now Mike’s son, Kyle, gets to coach Ed’s son, Christian, in San Fran.

This is also a Stanford reunion with Lynch landing McCaffrey, the former Cardinal standout and son of Ed, Lynch’s former Stanford teammate.

The 49ers’ bullish approach to winning these sweepstakes sets an exciting tone approaching the Nov. 1 NFL trade deadline, though.

And it announces that the 49ers expect to be playing football deep into January — something that didn’t appear likely only one month ago.


NFL executive Troy Vincent said at this week’s owners’ meetings in Manhattan that the league is popular largely because of its star young quarterbacks and, therefore, the NFL makes no apologies for over-officiating roughing the passer at times. “We’re not changing the philosophy around that call,” Vincent said in the wake of ludicrous penalties called on the Falcons’ Grady Jarrett and the Chiefs’ Chris Jones. “We’re not going to back off of protecting the quarterback.”

At least Vincent is being honest about the NFL’s motivations behind their rules enforcement. Of course, it must just be a coincidence that this extra emphasis and these controversial calls started happening after the Miami Dolphins botched Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion evaluations following a hit to the ground against the Buffalo Bills.

Russell Wilson is out with a hamstring injury Sunday when the Broncos host the Jets. Carson Wentz is on injured reserve for a minimum of four weeks with a broken finger. Here’s hoping both QBs have speedy recoveries. But every injury announcement doesn’t need to be accompanied by how badly the QBs tried to play through their ailment. Every NFL player is playing through something right now. Such reports are transparently self-serving. Sorry, but nobody cares.

Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said Carolina “like[s] the really young core of our team. This isn’t a situation where we’re trying to sell” players like Brian Burns and Derrick Brown. It’s good to see the Panthers recognize this doesn’t need to be a teardown. They have a lot of good players.

As for Fitterer saying the Panthers aren’t tanking the rest of this season, well, the coaches and players will keep trying to win. But the McCaffrey trade does not send the message that winning is the priority. That’s just a fact, even if it was a prudent business move for the long term.

Tagovailoa returns to start Sunday night’s home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after missing only two games due to that frightening concussion in Cincinnati. The whole football world will hold its breath when he drops back to pass until he gets through a full game.

Jets receiver Elijah Moore saw 21 targets in Joe Flacco’s three starts, and he’s seen just eight in Zach Wilson’s three starts. Moore’s trade request was poorly timed, but it’s hard not to think this wouldn’t have been an issue if Flacco had remained their quarterback.

Cooper Rush went 4-1 the last five weeks. Dak Prescott returns from his thumb injury to face the Detroit Lions at home in Arlington, Texas. No pressure to score and win, Dak: just a week’s worth of talk shows that Jerry Jones should bench or trade you if you don’t.

QB Kyler Murray’s “calm the f—k down” screaming at Cardinals Kliff Kingsbury on Thursday night was just the latest sign that Arizona’s operation is hanging by a thread, even as the Cards beat the injury-plagued Saints on Thursday.

Patriots QB Bailey Zappe is about to improve to 3-0 after Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears. How do you like them apples?

The Eagles (6-0), Bills (5-1), Vikings (5-1) and Rams (3-3) are on a bye in Week 7, which removes three of the NFL’s best teams from the schedule. It also guarantees Philly will remain undefeated heading into its Oct. 30 home game against the Steelers.


“No retirement in my future.” — Bucs QB Tom Brady when asked about speculation that he could step away from Tampa midseason



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