Christian McCaffrey gets HUGE extension from 49ers, and he’s worth every cent

It was a matter of “when” not “if” the San Francisco 49ers would work out a contract extension for Christian McCaffrey, and on Tuesday the news finally came down. CMC has reset the running back market with a mammoth boost in his already league-leading salary, which will now pay him an average of $19M per year on the new deal.

McCaffrey had two years remaining on the extension he signed with the Panthers back in 2020, which was an early signing on his rookie deal. The new contact will reduce his base salary $1.21M — which represents significant savings to the cap. Presumably this deal was done to push money back in the contract — freeing up space for the 49ers to have the freedom to work on a much-needed extension for Brandon Aiyuk.

Meanwhile for McCaffrey he’ll make $8M more than he was getting, and have more guaranteed money to boot. It’s a win-win deal that keep the 49ers most-important offensive player locked in until he’s 32, while also not committing too much future cap space.

Even at a mammoth RB figure of $19M per, there’s no doubt CMC is worth every cent of this new extension. He is the most important non-quarterback offensive player in the NFL, and especially in Kyle Shanahan’s offense he is the focal point of every drive. His do-everything ability as both a pass catcher and home run breaking speed opens things up for his quarterback and takes immense pressure off the need to have a playmaker at the position.

The extension is unlikely to affect too many running backs for several years, but it will play a role in extensions for the next round of top rushers who are set to come off rookie deals. This includes Travis Etienne of the Jaguars, Breece Hall of the Jets, Bijan Robinson in Atlanta, and Jahmyr Gibbs of the Lions. Barring any major complication all these guys will be looking for money in the ballpark of the CMC deal as NFL salaries swell due to an expanding salary cap.

Not bad for a guy who was once said to be “too small” for the NFL, with pre-draft reports being concerned whether his smaller frame could hold up to punishment in the pros.