In a surprise move last season, two-time Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.

After the shock of the Carolina Panthers trade wore off and the dust settled, McCaffrey said switching teams was «the best thing that ever happened to him.»

On Friday, the star running back tried to clarify his comments during an appearance on «Good Morning Football.»


Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Washington Commanders during the first half of a game at Levi’s Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

«I was thrown into the fire pretty quickly,» McCaffrey said. «I think early in practice when I was in the group with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Trent Williams, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Juszczyk and all these guys, I felt like I was on a Pro Bowl list. I realized this was a special team.»

McCaffrey added that he knew he had an opportunity to be a part of something special in San Francisco.


«I was very lucky to be part of a team that built a culture and took the time to build a culture,» he said. «To add to the top of the list, in my opinion, some of the best coaches in the NFL and guys who know how to use players like me and have been doing it for so long.

«I felt very lucky to be a part of something that was already so developed, if you will, and, like I said, a culture that was established.»

Christian McCaffrey celebrates a touchdown

San Francisco 49ers Christian McCaffrey (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the NFC Championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

But the 26-year-old wanted to make it clear that his comments were not intended to snub the Panthers.

«I want to make it clear that it was not against Carolina when I said that,» McCaffrey said. «I don’t have bad blood, and I love everyone there. I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates there and a lot of the coaches I had the privilege to play for there.»

McCaffrey was instantly successful upon his arrival in the Bay Area. He gave head coach Kyle Shanahan a valuable weapon from the backfield, and helped lead the Niners to the NFC Championship Game.

Christian McCaffrey breaks through the defense

San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) runs for a touchdown against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) during the second half of a game in Santa Clara, California on December 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

But the 49ers suffered several key injuries throughout the season. Ultimately, the quarterback injuries became too much for San Francisco to overcome in the NFC title game.

The team will enter the 2023 season with expectations of another deep playoff run, and McCaffrey is confident the roster is well-equipped to get the job done.


«I think this is part of a team that regardless of what the outcome (the NFC championship game) was, we would still be hungry for more,» McCaffrey said. «The way these guys show up to work every day. Obviously, we’re over that now. It’s definitely still in the back of your head. When you get that close and lose, it definitely lights a fire and makes you want to go back there. again. So I think the guys are hungry and ready to roll regardless of the outcome of that game.

«Obviously when you lose it’s a little more. But it’s been great to see the offseason play out. The way guys work and come together. I’m excited.»