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49ers reward RB Christian McCaffrey with 2-year extension

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Running back Christian McCaffrey, the NFL’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, has reset the running back market for the second time in about four years, signing a two-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners announced the deal (but did not disclose financial terms) on Tuesday afternoon, not long after sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal — which averages $19 million over the two added years — was done.

In addition to the two extra years (2026 and 2027), the Niners added $8 million over what McCaffrey was scheduled to make in 2024 and 2025 while adding $24 million in guarantees, the sources told Schefter. WME negotiated the contract, which follows the 2020 pact he signed with the Carolina Panthers which also set a record for running back compensation.

After the 49ers completed the first day of their mandatory minicamp, a relaxed McCaffrey made it clear how much it means to him to continue raising the bar at his position.

“I think it’s really important,” McCaffrey said. “I think running backs have been undervalued for a long time now and hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”

McCaffrey returned to the 49ers on Tuesday after skipping out on the voluntary portion of the offseason program. While coach Kyle Shanahan had previously declined to explain why McCaffrey was absent and pointed out that organized team activities were voluntary, there had been discussions between the sides about extending McCaffrey’s deal as a means to reward him for his impact since he arrived at the trade deadline in 2022.

The extension will keep McCaffrey with the 49ers through the 2027 season. Before the reworked deal, McCaffrey had two years remaining on the lucrative extension he signed with the Panthers.

But those two seasons had zero remaining guaranteed dollars in base salaries of $11.8 million in 2024 and $12 million in 2025. The extension guarantees all of that and comes with $8 million more for McCaffrey.

“Business is business, it’s part of this game,” McCaffrey said. “Both sides were mutually very respectful the whole time and just proud and happy that we got something done.”

For the Niners, retaining McCaffrey was something of a no-brainer as he quickly established himself as the focal point of one of the league’s most prolific offenses following the October 2022 trade that brought him to San Francisco. The 49ers acquired McCaffrey from the Panthers for 2023 second-, third- and fourth-round picks as well as a 2024 fifth-round selection. Since, McCaffrey has impressed teammates and coaches with his consistency, productivity and maniacal attention to detail.

McCaffrey, who turns 28 on Friday, posted 2,023 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns in 2023 and the Niners firmly believe that he has the ability to continue to play at that level for the foreseeable future, even into his 30s.

“When you look at Christian just as an individual, I’m not going to compare him to anybody else,” Shanahan said. “Christian is one of the more talented people I’ve ever met in my life, but if I didn’t speak about that, I’d say he’s almost the biggest overachiever I’ve been around in my life in terms of how obsessive he is with every little thing … You don’t picture him losing any of that because of the [age], but if that stuff does happen, Christian’s always going to be a good football player until he decides not to be. And we’re not really concerned with that at all with his type of personality.”

While McCaffrey was in Santa Clara on Tuesday, he did not participate in practice. He did a workout on the side and likely won’t participate again on Wednesday, according to Shanahan.

The Niners had more than 20 players not participating on Tuesday for various reasons, though the only two players not to report were receiver Brandon Aiyuk and left tackle Trent Williams. Williams was attending his daughter’s graduation from school and is expected to be back on Wednesday.

Aiyuk, meanwhile, is staying away as he continues to aim for a lucrative contract extension of his own. Because the minicamp is mandatory, he is subject to fines in excess of $104,000 if he doesn’t arrive over the next three days.

In the past two offseasons, defensive end Nick Bosa and wideout Deebo Samuel showed up to the minicamp but did not participate to avoid those fines as they worked out their contract issues. Aiyuk is taking a different approach, though Shanahan said that doesn’t change how he views the situation.

“Some guys come because they want to avoid a fine and some don’t, but regardless, it doesn’t change anything when those guys have come,” Shanahan said. “We know what the process is. We know what the business part is and that’s just how they decide how they want to handle this week.”

Samuel said Tuesday he’s been in regular contact with Aiyuk throughout the offseason, offering his help when needed on how to navigate the contract situation. His top piece of advice has been to preach patience.

“At the end of the day, you want to get what you deserve, and you hope it happens,” Samuel said. “But it’s not going to happen in the timely manner that you want it to happen. It’s just a waiting game and in this situation, you just let his agent communicate with them and they communicate back and it’s just the back and forth for a long time.”


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