INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP)It wasn’t Christian McCaffrey’s touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk early in the second quarter that impressed Jimmy Garoppolo the most.
It’s more about how quickly McCaffrey has picked up San Francisco’s offense.
”A lot of our guys on offense have been doing it for years together. It’s not an easy thing to ask. I thought he did a great job,” Garoppolo said after Sunday’s 31-14 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. ”Honestly there were no questions in the huddle. That’s incredible for him to have the mental capacity to pick it up that quickly.”
McCaffrey was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 20. He briefly got on the practice field the next day after a cross-country flight, but that was as the Niners were wrapping up a Friday session.
He has had only three complete practices with his new team – all this past week – but the versatile running back certainly looked quite comfortable against the Rams.
McCaffey was on the field for 42 of San Francisco’s 52 offensive plays as he became the 11th player in NFL history with a rushing, passing and receiving TD in the same game.
He had 18 carries for 94 yards and eight receptions for 55 yards, plus the 34-yard TD pass to Aiyuk.
”You have to learn as quickly as you can under the circumstances,” McCaffrey said. ”I appreciate the coaches and the guys in the room and Jimmy getting with me too and spending extra time on how he sees things. If it’s a little bit of extra time, that’s what it takes.”
In last Sunday’s 44-23 loss to Kansas City, McCaffrey played 23 of the 49ers’ snaps. He touched it 10 times (eight rushing, two receiving) for 62 yards (38 rushing, 24 receiving).
”Everyone’s a fan of Christian just watching his tape but being next to him in the locker room and seeing the work that he puts in,” tight end George Kittle said. ”He has put so much time in just one week and you appreciate that because you can tell how great he wants to be. That kind of pushes us all a little bit more.”
Kittle added that McCaffrey’s rushing and receiving scores weren’t exactly drawn up the way they happened.
”I mean I wasn’t the clear out on that. Normally we run that play from like the 20 or 30,” Kittle said of the 9-yard TD pass to McCaffrey late in the third quarter. ”I was just kind of scrambling around trying to get open but I think Jimmy saw him. I didn’t see Christian at all and he just snagged it.
”I think the run play he scored on was a complete bust by a lot of people but I’m pretty sure it worked.”
McCaffrey will get some time to catch up on the playbook with San Francisco on its bye next week. More important, the Niners go into the break 4-4 and 3-0 in the NFC West.
”There is still so much left to learn and I’m excited to continue to grow and get better with this team,” he said.
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