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RB Christian McCaffrey’s TD Streak Ends, But So Does 49ers’ Skid

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It would have been impossible to know that 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey had just narrowly lost the opportunity to own the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown all to himself based on his demeanor when he came up to the podium following Sunday’s convincing win over the Jaguars.

Instead, after his team’s 34-3 victory over the Jaguars ended his 17-game touchdown streak on the same day as his team’s three-game losing streak, McCaffrey actually had some stuff prepared for the anticipated inquiries.

Shanahan started benching some of his starters in the fourth quarter with a 31-point lead, including left tackle Trent Williams, who has been recovering from a right ankle ailment. Additionally, he benched McCaffrey for eight straight plays, during which Elijah Mitchell, a backup, scored seven runs.

The moment the Niners reached Jacksonville’s 29, though, McCaffrey returned. After breaking loose for a touchdown on a 19-yard run, he was given two more carries and two more passes to catch.

Unfortunately, Sam Darnold, the backup quarterback, failed to complete the throw in the right flat on fourth-and-goal, and the play was stopped short of the goal line. This was Jacksonville’s last chance from their five.

After regaining possession of the ball, the Niners decided not to put McCaffrey’s injury at additional risk.

The Niners had not won a game in thirty-four days as of Sunday. During that time, they had suffered devastating road defeats to the Browns and Vikings as well as a 31-17 home loss to the Bengals.

Following a five-game winning streak to start the season, which led many to believe the Niners were not only favorites to win the Super Bowl, but the clear favorite, came those losses and the bye.

The disheartening run of losses raised many questions about the Niners’ problems. Numerous problems surfaced, including costly late errors by quarterback Brock Purdy (and early ones by McCaffrey), inconsistent pass rush and defensive tackling, and missed kicks.

As part of the team’s efforts to turn things around, the Niners traded defensive end Chase Young for a 2023 third-round compensatory pick and promoted defensive coordinator Steve Wilks from the coach’s booth to the field. These transactions occurred within the last two weeks.

After recovering from a shoulder injury on Sunday, wide receiver Deebo Samuel remarked on Thursday that Monday’s practice felt like “Day 1 of training camp” because of how energized and eager the squad was to start the season strong. It was a major factor in Williams’ decision to play with his damaged ankle even though, in his judgment, he was only approximately 75–80% healthy.

McCaffrey gained 142 scrimmage yards despite failing to score. Moreover, Purdy had one of his best games, completing 19 of 26 passes for 296 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.

The Jaguars were only able to muster 221 yards from the defense, which also produced four interceptions and five sacks of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. When the sideline entered the field during cornerback Ambry Thomas’ fumble return, it was marked for unsportsmanlike behavior, which resulted in a touchdown callback for the defense.

Safety Ji’Ayir Brown and rookie linebacker Dee Winters were two of the players on the field.

Shanahan could not have been angry with the kids since he was also on the field, but he would have been under regular circumstances.

Shanahan, like McCaffrey, was not beyond making light of himself.

For the first time in almost a month, the 49ers seemed like the club that began the season looking every bit the part of a juggernaut. It was that kind of day where a lot went right, little went wrong.

Linebacker Fred Warner welcomed McCaffrey as he left the dais, giving him a hug and encouraging words, saying, “Sorry Christian, but we won the game.”

McCaffrey had already received this message.

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