San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey joined Kay Adams on the “Up & Adams Show” to take a look back on one of the biggest years he's had in his football career. On the show, McCaffrey revealed that he had faced his greatest moments of adversity before he was traded to the 49ers.
"Even in some losing seasons, I've had good individual years and I didn't understand what adversity in the NFL looked like yet at an individual level," McCaffrey said. "At a team level, I had faced some and lost some big games. But for me not being able to play, having to watch my teammates go out there and play from the side, you feel like you're not a part of the team."
In his final two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, McCaffrey only played in 10 total games due to injury. Four years into his NFL career, the running back recorded his first major injury setback, suffering a right high-ankle sprain during the Panthers loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was placed on his team's Injured Reserve list where he missed six games.
In his first game back from injury, McCaffrey injured his shoulder on the very last drive against the Kansas City Chiefs. His shoulder injury and a later sustained thigh glute strain forced the running back to miss the remainder of the 2020 season.
In 2021, McCaffrey experienced a similar story. The combination of a strained hamstring and a grade two pedal ankle sprain made him land on the Panthers Injured Reserve list once again.
"You feel like you're an outcast," McCaffrey said. "And then to hear the noise, to hear what people are saying about you – that you should retire, that you're never going to be the same again, that you can't do this and you can't do that – and you can't do anything about it other than sit there and listen to it and wait for next year. I think the patience part of it was the biggest thing I learned and the understanding that this whole thing is a marathon. I don't plan on playing another couple years, I want to be in this as long as I possibly can and that's gonna come with some challenges here and there."
For McCaffrey, 2022 was his comeback year.
The running back started in almost every game during the 2022 season, with one exception — the Week 7 game following the blockbuster trade that sent him from Carolina to San Francisco. This year, he recorded 1,880 scrimmage yards and notched a total of 13 touchdowns, taking the league by storm to become NFL.com’s No. 1 ranked starting running back of the 2022 season. His performance earned him accolades across the league, including a nomination for the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year honor, where he garnered the second-most votes behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith.
"The quicker I understood to just put one foot in front of the other, control what I can control and go out there and be me, it was a big weight off my shoulders," McCaffrey said. "Obviously, being traded to San Fran, I felt like I've got nothing to lose – go out there and ball, play your game, work as hard as you possibly can and see what happens."
Check out some of the best images from running back Christian McCaffrey's first day as a member of the 49ers.