Christian McCaffrey proving to be gamechanger for 49ers

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Last Thursday, the 49ers’ assistant head coach, Anthony Lynn, asked Christian McCaffrey, the Niners’ new running back: “Can you throw? Ever thrown a pass in a game?”

It had been four years, but yes, McCaffrey had done it. Late in the 2018 season, against New Orleans, he took a handoff from Cam Newton, the New Orleans defense surrounded him, and he lofted a spiral 17 yards downfield to tight end Chris Manhertz, all alone. Touchdown.

“I sent them the video of the play,” McCaffrey said.

This play:

“I wanted to make sure they knew I could throw,” he said, laughing, over the phone from the Niners’ locker room at SoFi Stadium Sunday night. You could tell from his voice that he was pretty proud of it. “As soon as they asked, I figured it might be something for Sunday.”

Yes, it just might be something for Sunday. By the time McCaffrey got to practice Friday, a halfback-option throw was in the gameplan—a backward pass from Jimmy Garoppolo to the right side, McCaffrey taking a couple of jab-steps like he was running a wheel-route, hoping to draw in the defense, just like he had in 2018 in Carolina. Then, if it worked and the defense got sucked in, wideout Brandon Aiyuk would have a clear path to the end zone. And the career running back, they all hoped, would be able to loft it over coverage.

“We repped it a couple of times in practice, then in the [Saturday] walk-through,” McCaffrey told me.

“Was Aiyuk open when you repped it?” I said.

“He was open every time,” McCaffrey said.

“So you knew it’d be called,” I said. “What were you thinking when the play got called, and you’re there in the huddle?”

McCaffrey said: “Let it rip. Let it rip, you know? It’s there. The play’s there. You just gotta make it.”

History’s written by the winners. In sports, history is made by the winners, and for the third time in 10 months, San Francisco, with a new star, is writing football history against the Super Bowl champions.


“I’ve got to ask,” I said to McCaffrey amid the din of the locker room, “did you know you’re only the fourth player since the 1970 merger who has thrown a TD pass, caught a TD pass and run for a TD?”

“I found out today,” he said. “It feels good. Really good. It’s a cool stat, but there’s a bigger stat.

“The win.

“To be able to go into a winning locker room, with great players, on a new team with so many guys who can make plays, it’s just exciting.”

He’s another one. Shanahan thought just what any football coach would think about a great back with the ball on the flank—he’ll draw a lot of attention, and maybe a good wide receiver could leak out and assuming McCaffrey wouldn’t get tight, he’d be able to hit Aiyuk for an easy touchdown. So the halfback-option play got practiced, and the Niners warmed up before Sunday’s game at SoFi.

“I threw a little before the game,” McCaffrey said, “but I didn’t want to make it too obvious.”

Five plays into the second quarter, down 7-0, Shanahan called it. “My arm was loose,” McCaffrey said. “I just thought, if BA is open by a step, let it rip. I knew when the corner came up a little [and Aiyuk had a step on two safeties], he was gonna make the catch if I put it out there. That’s not an easy catch. He had to turn his shoulder for the ball, and he made me look really good.”

The reality is it was a very good throw, a spiral floating 34 yards in the air to Aiyuk, who caught it in stride at the two- and scored easily. That tied it. McCaffrey’s nine-yard TD catch, on a play where he was a Jimmy Garoppolo afterthought late in the third, gave San Francisco the lead for good, 17-14. And he powered into the end zone early in the fourth from one yard out, bulling into 287-pound defensive tackle Marquise Copeland, giving the Niners a 24-14 lead and essentially ending it.

The Niners, 4-4, trail surprising Seattle (5-3) by a game. The Rams, 3-4, will have an uphill fight in the division, particularly after a second division loss to the Niners. It wasn’t lost on McCaffrey when he took the field at SoFi Sunday that he very well could have been suiting up for the home Rams had the trade gone down differently. Even the son of a well-traveled former NFL receiver wasn’t altogether ready for the uncertainty of a trade.

“This has been such a weird two weeks,” he said. “I grew up in the business so I understand it’s a business but you don’t really know how to act until you experience the actual event. I didn’t think about where I’d go till I got the call from [Carolina GM] Scott Fitterer.

“It was weird. I practiced that Thursday, went to meetings that Thursday, went home, and [Fitterer] called, and the next day, early, I was on a flight and practiced with the 49ers Friday. It’s a crazy league. But I loved the 49ers run game. I knew that’s where God wanted me to go and now I’m happy to be here.”

On a couple of plays Sunday, McCaffrey stood outside the celebratory group of players while they got all happy. It’s like he wasn’t really in the club yet, and he was still learning who everyone was and making sure he didn’t overstep his bounds. But players accept great players. McCaffrey is one of those.

“I can’t even put into words how happy I am,” he said. “It’s a crazy journey in the NFL. You see this stuff happen and you never think it’ll happen to you. But it has. I’m glad it did.” Niners are too.

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!