CHARLOTTE — The Panthers made a move for the future late Thursday night, trading running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, pending a physical.
For the Panthers, the move offers the opportunity to help in 2023 and beyond, adding draft inventory for the offseason as they look to build on a core of young players on defense.
McCaffrey, the 2017 first-round pick, was one of the league's brightest stars during his first three seasons. He led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,392 in 2019, running for a career-best 1,387 yards and adding another 1,005 receiving that year. The following two years were more difficult, as he was limited to just 10 games in 2020 and 2021 because of a collection of injuries, but this year's production showed the kind of player he remains.
"Christian's focus and commitment to the game are rare," Panthers owner David Tepper said. "He is humble, takes nothing for granted, works extremely hard and has earned everything he has accomplished. I'm grateful for his contributions to the Panthers and wish him the best as he moves forward with his career."
The 26-year-old McCaffrey was off to a strong start this season, with 670 yards from scrimmage. That was fourth in the league through the first six weeks, trailing only Saquon Barkley (771), Tyreek Hill (719), and Nick Chubb (700).
The form McCaffrey showed through the first six games this season, when little was going according to plan around him, was enough to convince the 49ers to make a bold midseason move.
Christian McCaffrey tallied 7,272 scrimmage yards and 50 scrimmage touchdowns in six seasons with the Panthers.