Selfishness doesn’t fly on the 49ers, with countless offensive stars divvying up targets and plenty of other jobs to do when a player isn’t holding the ball.
That selfless attitude was on display during San Francisco’s 42-19 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, courtesy of Christian McCaffrey’s block up the middle on a game-sealing touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Purdy to receiver Jauan Jennings in the fourth quarter.
For those who might have missed it, the 49ers running back broke down his role in the play during an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King after the game.
“We kind of expected blitz right there,” McCaffrey told King from the 49ers’ team plane. “We talked a little bit before that, and we said Jauan was the hot receiver if they did end up bringing a zero blitz [seven rushers, no defenders deep].
“It’s part of playing the running-back position. The most important thing is protection and being able to sink your hips and block a linebacker up the middle.”
McCaffrey fulfilling that duty helped Purdy assess the field with a clean pocket despite the blitz and find Jennings for an 18-yard touchdown, giving the 49ers some much-needed insurance in what had been a two-score game with nearly 11 minutes left.
San Francisco 49ers
It’s not anything new for the 49ers Faithful, who are used to San Francisco’s stacked offense doing what’s asked of them without batting an eye about their own production, whether it’s Brandon Aiyuk trucking defenders downfield or George Kittle laying down a pancake block along the offensive line.
It’s a big reason as to why the unit is so successful — an all-in approach with a devastating knack for detail.
“If you don’t pride in playing without the ball,” McCaffrey told King, “whether it’s fakes or blitz pickups or blocking in space, you’re not going to play here. George Kittle’s the best [tight end] in the league because of what he does in the run game. Then you look on tape — you’ll see Jauan, Deebo [Samuel] and BA [Aiyuk] blocking 35 yards downfield. We keep a pretty high standard for it.”
The famous term “Any given Sunday” could be used for the 49ers’ offense, too. Fans never know who’s going to have a big game with the star-studded cast Purdy has to choose from. And the fact that San Francisco’s skill players are just as talented — and eager — with or without the ball in their hands is something McCaffrey doesn’t take for granted.
In fact, it’s instilled in the group by coach Kyle Shanahan.
“I think we have a really unselfish team,” McCaffrey told King. “We just know that we have a lot of talented guys when they have the ball in their hands. It’s so important that we play to the whistle because you never know who’s gonna make the big play.
“It’s coached. It’s really coached. It’s coached every single day: Playing without the ball is something that all of us take a lot of pride in. That’s a massive standard for Kyle.”
Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast