49ers Extend RB Christian McCaffrey

The 49ers’ acquisition of Christian McCaffrey brought in a high-priced running back with three-plus years remaining on his contract. McCaffrey has proven tremendously valuable for his second NFL team, and he entered the 2024 offseason with two seasons left on his Panthers-constructed deal.

McCaffrey and the 49ers have reached an agreement on a new contract that will tie the reigning rushing champion to the team beyond 2025. The 49ers are giving McCaffrey a two-year, $38MM extension, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports. This will now tether the dual-threat dynamo to San Francisco through 2027.

This represents a bump for the running back market, which McCaffrey had paced since his Carolina extension came to pass in April 2020. In addition to the eighth-year veteran moving beyond his $16MM-per-year number, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds he will see $24MM guaranteed on this 49ers agreement. McCaffrey will earn an additional $8MM over the deal’s first two years as well. No guarantees remained on McCaffrey’s previous contract.

McCaffrey, who will turn 28 later this week, had made it known internally he wanted a new deal, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini. The former top-10 pick had stayed away from San Francisco OTAs. While that was not exactly cause for alarm regarding this relationship ahead of this week’s minicamp, the 49ers will act early on a player who has rewarded them the October 2022 pickup that required second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round draft choices to complete.

Tuesday’s agreement also stands to drop CMC’s 2024 cap number, which stood at $14.1MM. Via a restructure, the 49ers had already included two void years in McCaffrey’s previous contract. This extension will help out on that front as well. Given the instability on the running back market over the past two offseasons, it is somewhat surprising to see a back reach $19MM-AAV territory. No other RB is tied to a deal worth more than $15MM per season.

The 2023 offseason removed a few high-priced RB contracts from the equation. The Cowboys and Vikings respectively cut Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook, and the Bengals and Packers respectively gave Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones pay cuts. The 2023 franchise tag deadline featured the three tagged RBs (Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard) not receiving extensions. McCaffrey was among those who voiced concerns about teams’ valuations of the position, and a Jonathan Taylor-Colts impasse took place. Since Taylor’s battle with his team, the market has shifted a bit. McCaffrey’s new deal follows Taylor’s $14MM-per-year extension and Barkley’s three-year, $37.5MM Eagles agreement.

San Francisco will use a $14.29MM signing bonus to spread out McCaffrey’s cap hits, and Florio adds a 2025 option bonus is in place. The team will guarantee $8.5MM of McCaffrey’s $14.25MM option bonus at signing. Beyond this $24MM guaranteed, the 49ers should still have some flexibility beyond 2025. McCaffrey’s deal includes a nonguaranteed 2026 option bonus ($10.55MM), per Florio, with a nonguaranteed $1.3MM 2026 base salary. CMC’s 2027 base ($16.85MM) is also nonguaranteed.

McCaffrey’s deal reminds of the Cardinals’ 2020 DeAndre Hopkins accord, as it raises a positional AAV ceiling for a player already signed for at least two more seasons. Hopkins received a $27.25MM-per-year extension, which tied him to the Cardinals for five total seasons. The former Arizona wideout collected the guaranteed money on that deal but was not with the Cardinals for the extension years, as the team cut him in 2023. Although signing bonus prorations will create some dead money if the 49ers opt to move on, this contract provides McCaffrey security for 2025 at the very least.

Following the 49ers’ whiff on the Jerick McKinnon signing in 2018, the team used low-cost RBs — Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson among them — until presented with the opportunity to acquire McCaffrey at the 2022 deadline. Outbidding the Rams for CMC, the 49ers took a risk on a player who had missed much of the 2020 and ’21 seasons due to injury. McCaffrey has rewarded the 49ers’ faith, making two Pro Bowls and — after a season with 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 touchdowns — winning the 2023 Offensive Player of the Year award.

Missing 23 games due to quad, hamstring, shoulder and ankle maladies from 2020-21, McCaffrey has managed to play all but one game since being traded; he missed only an inconsequential Week 18 contest last season. He has been a vital part of the 49ers’ success over the past two seasons, providing Brock Purdy unmatched versatility from the RB position. The 49ers will have a Purdy payment to consider, but a 2025 Purdy extension would still stand to align with this latest CMC payday. McCaffrey may be out of the picture by the time the QB’s lofty cap numbers (assuming a Purdy extension indeed comes to pass) surface. For now, the 49ers have rewarded their top offensive player during the final stages of Purdy’s rookie deal.

This agreement leaves the 49ers with one fewer offensive pillar with a contract year in 2025. Purdy, George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are scheduled for walk years in ’25, with Brandon Aiyuk unsigned beyond his fifth-year option season. The Aiyuk situation lingers, but the 49ers checked off one box Tuesday, rewarding the top player at a marginalized position.

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