Kyle Shanahan: Christian McCaffrey doesn’t like to come out, we could protect him more

Christian McCaffrey won the NFL’s offensive player of the year award while handling more touches than any player in the league, so the running back provided the 49ers with both quality and quantity on the field.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan hinted that they might like to dial back the quantity a bit as they try to maintain the quality during the 2024 season. While speaking to reporters from the team’s offseason workouts this month, Shanahan said that the team thinks they have enough depth to give other players a run in place of McCaffrey at points this season.

“We have guys that can run the ball,” Shanahan said, via “We have to protect Christian from himself. 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.”

Elijah Mitchell had 75 carries last season and Jordan Mason ran the ball 40 times, but the 49ers could wind up looking to 2024 fourth-rounder Isaac Guerendo as a change of pace if he does well in the preseason. They could also just opt to not break what didn’t need fixing last season and continue rolling with McCaffrey as the main force in their offense.

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