Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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49ers’ Christian McCaffrey ‘grateful’ for MVP buzz, but ‘Super Bowl is the biggest thing on the planet’

Super Bowl week always involves more than just the Big Game on Sunday, and that is certainly the case for All-Pro San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey

The NFL’s leader in rushing yards (1,459), scrimmage yards (2,023) and co-leader in scrimmage touchdowns (21) earned both Pro Bowl and First Team All-Pro selections for his production this season. On Thursday night, he’ll find out if he will be the first running back to win league MVP honors since Adrian Peterson in 2012 during the NFL Honors award show. 

“One thing this week has taught me is, the individual awards and all the individual accolades that you get are great, but there’s nothing bigger than the Super Bowl, and that’s very true,” McCaffrey said Wednesday, via NFL.com. “I think I realized that when they announced the All-Pro and the Pro Bowl and all those things.

“I’m extremely grateful for those, and I don’t take them lightly, and I don’t take them for granted, but to have an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl is the biggest thing on the planet, and I think it’s what this whole game is about. So I think that’s what’s really special.”

However, the NFL’s top running back is unsure of his credentials being enough to clear the arbitrary bar for a running back to be the league’s MVP. Quarterbacks have won the last 10 MVP awards.

“To be an MVP as a running back, I think you gotta rush for, you have to have 2,000 yards or 1,000-1,000 (rushing and receiving yards), maybe, and a bunch of touchdowns,” McCaffrey said. “And I think to be MVP, you have to have quarterbacks that have some down years.”    

However, a historic case does exist for CMC. He became just the fourth player since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to lead the NFL in rushing yards wire to wire, meaning he was atop the league’s rushing yards leaderboard every week following the conclusion of Week 1. The other three players in this club are all Hall of Famers who have all won MVP honors in their careers: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and O.J. Simpson. Payton (1977) and Simpson (1973) earned MVP awards during their wire-to-wire rushing champion seasons. 

Wire-to-wire rushing titles since 1970

RB Season(s)

Christian McCaffrey

2023

Emmitt Smith

1995

Walter Payton

1977*

O.J. Simpson

1973*, 1975

* Won NFL MVP that season

Entering Week 18 of the regular season, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson possessed -20000 odds to win the 2023 MVP award, according to FanDuel, after throwing for a career-high five passing touchdowns in a Week 17 56-19 win against the Miami Dolphins that clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

However, McCaffrey would much rather prefer to be the first rushing title winner to win a Super Bowl in the same season since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis did so with Mike Shanahan’s Denver Broncos in the 1998 season. Now, McCaffrey has the chance to do the same with Mike’s son Kyle as his head coach and play-caller. 

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