The San Francisco 49ers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC in the NFL playoffs after beating the Washington Commanders on Sunday.
While 49ers fans are likely thrilled about yesterday’s result, all of the news after the game wasn’t positive.
Star running back Christian McCaffrey got hurt in Sunday’s 27-10 victory at Washington that helped the 49ers clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye. San Francisco (12-4) will host a divisional round playoff game on either Jan. 20 or 21, giving McCaffrey nearly three weeks to heal.
Peter King of NBC Sports reported on Monday that McCaffrey has been diagnosed with a calf strain
“We’re real confident on that,” coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday about McCaffrey being ready for the playoff opener. “It was good news. Could’ve been a lot worse. We’re happy it’ll take care of him this week. Hopefully he’ll start getting to go during our off week.”
McCaffrey leads the NFL with 1,459 yards rushing and 2,023 yards from scrimmage and is tied with Miami’s Raheem Mostert for the most touchdowns with 21.
Elijah Mitchell will take over the starting running back role this week against the Rams. Mitchell had 17 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Commanders in his most extensive action of the season.
San Francisco 49ers Should Be Concerned About Christian McCaffrey’s Injury History
While Shanahan is going to naturally downplay the injury, McCaffrey’s injury history shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“I think it was minor and just made the smart move, especially not knowing what was going to happen next week,” McCaffrey said, via Nick Wagoner of ESPN. “I didn’t just want to go in there and make it any worse. With certain things, you can’t be dumb about it.”
McCaffrey had 14 carries for 64 yards and four catches for 27 yards on Sunday before heading to the sideline after the injury.
Draftsharks.com takes an extensive look into a player’s injury history and makes projections about their health for a given season. Ahead of the 2023 season they projected McCaffrey would have an 82 percent chance of suffering an injury this season and would miss three games.
They calculate these projections based on a player’s injury history and Christian McCaffrey has a significant list of injuries — ranging from minor ones that lingered and kept him off the field longer than expected — to the 2021 high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins — and was placed on injured reserve ending his season.
So far, McCaffrey has been durable in 2023 and the San Francisco 49ers offense is significantly more dynamic with their versatile healthy in the backfield. His only injury this season came in Week 6 vs. the Browns in the third quarter due to an oblique injury but he didn’t miss any significant time.
Here’s a full list of Christian McCaffrey’s injury history:
Sept. 2020: McCaffrey suffered a right high-ankle sprain during Week 2’s loss to the Buccaneers and missed six games
Nov. 2020: McCaffrey injured his shoulder on the last drive of Week 9’s loss to the Chiefs. He missed 4 games
Dec 2020: McCaffrey’s thigh tightened up ahead of Week 14 game. He missed 4 games due to that injury.
Sept.2021: McCaffrey suffered a strained hamstring in Week 3’s Panthers win over the Texans. He missed five games.
Nov. 2021: McCaffrey rolled his left ankle in Week 12’s loss to the Dolphins. He was placed on injured reserve Monday and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.
While Shanahan is inevitably going to downplay the extent of Christian McCaffrey’s injury status, there’s really no telling how healthy the 49ers star will be until he takes the field in three weeks when the San Francisco 49ers host their first playoff game.
Still, with McCaffrey’s history, any injury this late in the season should be concerning. He will be vital for the 49ers goal of winning a Super Bowl to close out the year.