Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
#23 Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers. NFL Rumors/Twitter


  • Christian McCaffrey voices his concern about running backs being paid less
  • "Somewhere along the line, the running back position has been undervalued," he says
  • McCaffrey's hopes of seeing his vision come true face more adversity than assurance

The NFL landscape has seen a massive shift in the landscape on the offense with most teams favoring the passing game over the running game, and Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers has a lot of thoughts on the matter.

As a guest on The Rich Eisen Show last Friday, May 26, McCaffrey bared his opinions.

"I think when you look back in history and look at what the running back position has meant to football, they touch the ball more than anybody... Somewhere along the line, the running back position has been undervalued, in my opinion, for what they're asked to do," McCaffrey mentioned.

"And I think there are a lot of guys that are scared to speak up about that for multiple reasons. I definitely think somewhere along the line, the franchise tag and what the market did to the running back position, I think they're definitely undervalued. And I think if you asked the running backs around the league, they would probably say the same thing."

Widely recognized across the league as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, running back in the NFL today thanks to his ability to run through the opposition while also having the hands of a wide receiver–evidenced by his 1,005-yard receiving year in 2019.

The following offseason, McCaffrey's value on the field was recognized by the Carolina Panthers as they handed him a four-year, $64 million extension which made him the highest-paid running back in NFL history on an average annual value (AAV) of $16 million.

For as much as the NFL has turned into a pass-happy league, running backs still have their place on a franchise.

The Chicago Bears led the league in rushing yards per game in the regular season with 177.3 last season, while the Baltimore Ravens (160), Atlanta Falcons (159.9), New York Giants (148.2) and Philadelphia Eagles (147.6) followed the Bears.

While the era of uber-dominant running backs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and even modern-era icon Marshawn Lynch has come and gone, having that balance on both sides of the offense matters.

The Kansas City Chiefs offense may have been led by Patrick Mahomes and his strong group of receivers to lead the league in receiving yards as a team, but they would have struggled to get their receivers open so easily had it not been for their rushing game.

Granted that Mahomes is a dual-threat quarterback that has a cannon for an arm, the contributions of running backs like Isaiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon played a role in their Super Bowl run.

Moreover, running backs have also been asked to play the role of a receiver in today's game in order to further strengthen the offense—as evidenced by McCaffrey himself, Austin Ekeler and Najee Harris.

All in all, McCaffrey's position on the matter will be a tough ask of NFL front offices since the expectations of consistent production on the ground go hand-in-hand with whether they can also play the role of a pass-catcher.

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Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints leaps over Lamarcus Joyner #20 of the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 4, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images