How Christian McCaffrey trade affects 49ers, Panthers

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Trade of the year. Or, at least “co-trade of the year.” The Tyreek Hill deal was pretty significant too. But when Christian McCaffrey-to-the-49ers was on the verge of happening last Thursday afternoon at the 49ers’ offices in Santa Clara, Calif., Niners GM John Lynch said to Kyle Shanahan, “If this happens, would you play him Sunday?” and Shanahan said no. Actually, from my conversation with Shanahan late Saturday night, his words were, “No way, man.”

But then, when the deal went down, Lynch and Shanahan got on the phone with the ex-Carolina Panther. One of the first things McCaffrey said to his new head coach was: “Coach, can you give me an iPad with the gameplan on it right away so I can be ready for Sunday?”

Well then. McCaffrey won the turf war over playing. Wearing number 23 just two days and three hours after first stepping foot inside the Niners’ facility, McCaffrey gave San Francisco 21 plays (per Next Gen Stats) against Kansas City, mostly in an active first half, with 10 touches for 62 hard-fought yards. He wasn’t the player of the game or even close. But the Niners’ 21-point defeat showed just how much this team needs an offensive jolt like the one McCaffrey should provide in the season’s final 10 games.

It’s highly likely the Niners’ trade of second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round picks (the first three come in the 2023 draft) will be the biggest in-season trade this year. The trade deadline is in eight days. How it affects the three teams involved — Panthers, Niners, and the bridesmaid Rams — and what it says about aggression in trading today:

Niners: It’s undeniably a big risk.

This is McCaffrey’s ninth season — three at Stanford, six in the NFL — as a high-traffic running back. Easy to say, “He’s just 26,” but a 5-11, 205-pound back is bound to feel the effects of 21 touches a game in 102 college/pro games over nine years. (He exited Sunday with 1,997 college/pro career touches from scrimmage and 115 kick/punt returns, for 2,112 times being hit, often by large men.)

Every player is different. McCaffrey trains exceedingly hard, yet missed 23 games to hamstring, thigh, shoulder and ankle injuries over the 2020 and ’21 seasons. When Shanahan met the press in Santa Clara Thursday, he said: “I view everything as a gamble. I view making trades as a gamble. I view not making trades as a gamble.” To me, Saturday night, he put it this way: “You can sit there and not put yourself out there and not do something like this, and then where are you?”

His 10 touches for 62 yards is close to his career average. His prior NFL history was 5.8 yards per touch. Sunday, after being in his new playbook for about 15 minutes, he was 6.2 yards per touch. Next week McCaffrey’s certain to get a bigger load. The 3-4 Niners travel to the tarnished Super Bowl champion Rams in a very important game for San Francisco.

The case for the trade being a good risk for San Francisco: The Niners have a fairly manageable cap risk here — $690,000 this season and $12 million, not guaranteed, in each of the next three years. Shanahan made it clear they intend to keep McCaffrey beyond this year. To pay McCaffrey $12.7 million for the next 28 regular-season games is money very well spent if he plays most of the games; in that event, the Niners can judge whether to keep or cut him after the ’23 season.

The case for it being a poor risk: McCaffrey’s durability, of course, tops this list…Also, the loss of three picks in the top 140 of the draft (approximately) is big, obviously. As of today, San Francisco’s first picks in the 2023 draft will be around 102 and 105; those are Compensatory Picks at the bottom of the third round for losing two minority coaches and a minority GM in the last two years. The Niners wouldn’t pick again till their own choice in the fifth round, likely around pick 165 overall. Think of the picks they’ve had from round two through five under Shanahan/Lynch: George Kittle, Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw, Talanoa Hufanga. “For every one of those who’ve been great,” Shanahan told me, “I can name about 10 who haven’t been great.”

True…but one of the great draft-pick aggregators of all time, Jimmy Johnson, once told me: “I don’t know that I’m smarter than anyone else in the draft. All these picks just give me a chance to make mistakes and still come away with some good players.” San Francisco’s margin for error next April will be minuscule.

Carolina: Great tanking trade.

The Panthers are gold right now. Even with the win over Tampa Bay Sunday (I bet David Tepper was very quietly perturbed), they enter the last 10 games of the season 2-5, with the third overall pick in the 2023 draft. That’s almost certain to fluctuate in the next 10 weeks. But this is a draft stocked with quarterbacks. None is perfect, though. The Panthers may well get to have their pick of Bryce Young (Alabama), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) or Will Levis (Kentucky), wherever they pick. After trading their best player, and with a mishmash at quarterback, it’ll be a surprise if they don’t pick in the top five next April, with some draft capital to move up if need be. They already had picks near the top of the first, second and fourth rounds, and this deal adds the Niner picks in rounds two, three and four.

Young, Stroud and Levis might not be Burrow, Herbert and Allen from recent top tens, but one or two will get hot in February and March. If it happens that the Panthers need to trade up a slot or two for the passer of their dreams, five picks in the second, third and fourth rounds will be good chips to play.

Credit GM Scott Fitterer for playing poker correctly. Even though the Rams were involved, L.A. never got close to the Niners’ offer of three picks in the top 130 (estimate) of next year’s draft plus a 2025 pick in round five. Fitterer got more for a back with McCaffrey’s injury history than he had a right to hope for.

Re tanking: It shouldn’t be a dirty word. If I’m a Panthers’ fan, I want my team to tank so as to gain the highest possible pick next year. What difference does it make if Carolina is 3-14 or 6-11? Winning five or six would mean the Panthers likely wouldn’t have their pick of the litter at quarterback, and that’s all that should matter to the franchise in the next six months.

Rams: They just said no.

“The price was driven by Niners versus Rams, not by Christian McCaffrey,” said one exec who was involved in the talks over the past week. The Rams had second- and third-round picks next year, but they’d traded their 2023 first-, fourth- and fifth-rounders already. L.A. was willing to give its two, but trading the three would have been exceedingly painful; it would have left them without a pick till the end of the fourth round, when they were slated to have a Compensatory Pick. Seeing that there’s a good chance the Rams will have major needs in the draft, particularly on the offensive line, next year, not picking till about 140th overall (the fourth-round Comp area) would have been a killer even for a gambler like Rams GM Les Snead.

But the price wouldn’t have been just second- and third-round picks; Carolina wanted more either in a draft pick or picks, or a young player. So the only reason this made sense for L.A. would have been to keep McCaffrey away from a team that looks better in the division right now. This was a good decision by L.A. You can’t allow the state of a rival to determine everything about your future plans.

Trading: More proof this isn’t your dad’s NFL.

Les Snead made the F Them Picks saying an ethos with the boom-or-bust (very boom so far) trades that built a Super Bowl team with the Rams. In training camp, Snead told me, “I go to Starbucks and people say, ‘F them picks!’ LeBron Tweeted about it. When that happened, finally my kids thought I was okay.”

When I started covering the NFL, GMs stayed forever and high picks were precious china in an arch-conservative league. Jimmy Johnson started to change that around 1990, but picks became trade chips mostly in the last 10 years. Younger decision-makers weren’t married to the ways of the past. Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff was 45 when he traded five picks to move up for Julio Jones in 2011. Snead was 41 when he got hired by the Rams in 2012. Howie Roseman of the Eagles was 40 when Chip Kelly was fired late in 2015; Roseman’s roster re-shaping contributed to a Super Bowl win five years ago and the Eagles, after a bold trade for A.J. Brown last draft weekend, are unbeaten today. Minnesota’s Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Detroit’s Brad Holmes made a rare big inter-division trade before the draft this year at the ages of 40 and 42, respectively. Brett Veach was 44 when he pulled off the Tyreek Hill mega-deal. And Shanahan, who doesn’t have the GM title but does have final roster say, was 41 at the time of the trade-up for Trey Lance, and 42 now at the time the Niners got McCaffrey. “It’s been cool to watch teams make trades now,” Shanahan said. “It used to drive me crazy early in my time in the league that it was so hard to trade.”

Other reasons beyond youth: GMs are more like coaches — more in win-now mode than two generations ago…Trading Compensatory Picks, legal for the past four years, gives GMs more ammo to make deals Tanking, though unspoken, is understandable and valuable if it helps draft position, which encourages teams that start, say, 1-6, to make pre-deadline deals for better picks in the next draft.

Beyond all that, isn’t it just more fun when Kansas City gambles that it can win without Tyreek, and when the Niners gamble McCaffrey is the missing piece in a sleepy offense? Trades help make football compelling.


On Saturday night, Shanahan was already envisioning the multiple ways he would use McCaffrey. You’ll see him as a slot receiver for sure, and, as you saw Sunday, left out in space to take a quick pass and just try to make something happen — a la Percy Harvin, or even Deebo Samuel. “We’ve got a ton of options,” Shanahan said. “We can change the parts all over our offense and put different guys in, to take pressure off everybody. But like I told the team, We just added a really good player. But we gotta play better in all phases to really make it mean something.

Shanahan could have said that after McCaffrey’s first game as a Niner too. Getting shredded by Patrick Mahomes was a cold shower after the excitement of the McCaffrey deal. But the NFC West is winnable, and I doubt a good defense looks that bad again this season.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

2022 NFL Christmas Schedule: TV Schedule, live stream info, what teams are playing, kickoff times, and more

Here is the full 2022 NFL Christmas Schedule with additional how to watch/live stream info
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Christmas falls on a weekend this year which means the NFL is giving the gift of a full, three-day slate of action. The excitement kicks off on Christmas Eve–Saturday, December 24–with 11 total games taking place including an NFC East showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, December 25, the NFL will have a Christmas Day triple-header for the first time ever. First, at 1:00 PM ET, the Green Bay Packers take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Then at 4:30 p.m. ET, it’s the Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. At 8:20 p.m. ET the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go head-to-head with the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with a special Christmas Day edition of Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock.

See below for the full 2022 NFL Christmas schedule as well as additional information on how to watch/live stream each match-up.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

2022 NFL Christmas Weekend Schedule:

*All times are listed as ET

Saturday, Dec. 24
Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m., FOX
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., FOX
Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m., CBS
New Orleans Saints vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., CBS
Seattle Seahawks vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m., FOX
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX
Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS
Washington Commanders vs. San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m., NFLN
Sunday, Dec. 25
Green Bay Packers vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., FOX
Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Rams, 4:30 p.m., CBS/Nickelodeon
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals, 8:20 p.m., NBC/Peacock
Monday, Dec. 26
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

Which NFL teams are playing on Christmas Day?

  • Green Bay Packers vs Miami Dolphins
  • Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Rams
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals

How to watch Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals:

  • Where: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
  • When: Sunday, December 25
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Arizona Cardinals game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys: TV, live stream info for Sunday night’s game

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It’s the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch tonight’s game.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts fell 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in their 7th loss of the season and 2nd loss under interim head coach Jeff Saturday. Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this season, took over after the Colts fired Frank Reich ahead of Week 10. Reich spent 5 seasons with the Colts, reaching the playoffs just twice (2018, 2020) and finishing with a 40-33-1 record in the regular season. Indianapolis’ offensive struggles have continued this season after ranking 10th in scoring last season at 26.5 points per game. Entering Week 13, the Colts are averaging 15.8 points per game–they’re tied with the Texans who are ranked 31st in the league. Ryan went 22-of-34 for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Monday night’s loss. RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

RELATED: Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts – “I thought we had plenty of time”

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys completed the season series sweep with a 28-20 win over the New York Giants last Thursday evening. Prescott finished 21-of-30 for 261 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was playing in his second game since returning from a knee injury, rushed for a season-high 92 yards and ignited the Cowboys’ offense scoring the first touchdown of the game. On defense, the Cowboys had 3 sacks–two of them were from OLB Micah Parsons who ranks 2nd in the league with 12 sacks this season. Dallas currently has one of the best defenses in the NFL and leads all teams with 45 sacks this season. The Cowboys have won 4 of their last 5 games and enter Week 13 just two games behind Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East lead.

RELATED: Dak Prescott – I am as confident as I can be in this team


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!