The San Francisco 49ers are making a massive move ahead of the NFL’s Nov. 1 trade deadline.
The Niners are acquiring star running Christian McCaffrey in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the trade was not yet official.
The Panthers are receiving second, third and fourth round picks in 2023, as well as a fifth rounder in 2024 in exchange for McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft out of Stanford, returns to the Bay Area after spending the first five-plus seasons of his career in Carolina. He earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods in 2019 after recording 2,392 yards from scrimmage, third-most in NFL history.
This year, the dual-threat back, who’s battled injuries the prior two seasons, has rushed for 393 yards (4.6 average) and has 277 receiving yards.
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What this trade means for the 49ers
Kyle Shanahan has another explosive weapon for his offense – when healthy. That’s the key to this trade for San Francisco. If McCaffrey is healthy and contributes like we know he can, the 49ers are a favorite to make another deep postseason run like they did last season. It could even mean getting past the NFC title game and reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons. The move alters the balance in the NFC, where the Philadelphia Eagles are undefeated while teams like the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, 2020 champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers are struggling this season.
What it means for the Panthers
It’s rebuilding time in Carolina. Coach Matt Rhule was fired in the midst of his third season, failing to get the Panthers relevant with a revolving door at quarterback featuring former top-three draft picks like Baker Mayfield, Cam Newton and Sam Darnold. Firing Rhule earlier this month got the rebuild wheel turning. Trading Robbie Anderson to the Cardinals was affirmation. And dealing away McCaffrey for the bounty of picks in return is the plan in motion for Carolina. The Panthers will be a favorite to land the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft next April.