Christian McCaffrey’s special impact goes beyond football, explains Matt Rhule

Christian McCaffrey took his dual threat skills to a triple threat when he showed his quarterback skills with a touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk in the 49ers’ 31-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8.

But there is another important element he brings to the game of football that goes beyond his talents on the field.

It’s no secret that McCaffrey is a great athlete, but he’s an even better person.

McCaffrey’s relationship with his past or current coaches and their families means coaches like Matt Rhule will always be in his corner no matter what jersey he wears.

Rhule, who coached the Carolina Panthers from 2020 until his layoff five weeks into the 2022 NFL season after a 37-15 loss to the 49ers, joined NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” Tuesday and spoke about the special relationship he had with McCaffrey during their respective tenures in Carolina.

“He’s a great person. Of course it’s hard that I’m fired. I got fired on Monday or Tuesday, the next week my wife and son flew out to see the Penn State game and Christian walks into the airport,” Rhule explained. “As my wife, who has the players and then goes through this breakup, it’s hard because she can’t say goodbye to anyone. And then my son, who’s been a ball boy for the last three years, got fired too.

“And Christian comes in, sees my wife and son at the airport and walks right up to them, hugs my son, hugs my wife, tells them he loves them. He wanted to go to San Francisco. He really is. And because of that, I’ll always be a fan of his.”

Just when it seemed McCaffrey couldn’t be a more likable player, it’s stories like this that make you realize he’s so much bigger than football.

Rhule continued to rave about McCaffrey, saying he’s “the most trainable player” because he’s willing to keep learning and getting better.

San Francisco pulled off the blockbuster trade for McCaffrey because the organization felt he could be a difference maker.

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And he was just that and more for the 49ers just four weeks later.

“I think he’s the missing element. We had the chance to play her with Deebo Samuel, [George] Kittle, Aiyuk, you have so much talent out there. You saw Elijah [Mitchell] Last night they can run the football. Probably one of the best O-lines in football. Christian is just this added piece. [The Arizona Cardinals] tried to get a linebacker together [McCaffrey] on third down, and it’s a first down. They tried to play a safety game against him, play a bit of light then they can run football against you. It will allow them to win playoff games.”

That’s the goal for McCaffrey and the 49ers, but it’s nice to know his greatness on the field doesn’t end when he leaves it.

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