Christian McCaffrey didn’t mean to shade Panthers

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey is walking back an earlier comment he made about his ex-team — probably for the good karma.

San Francisco 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey appears to be enjoying life on his new team, but he doesn’t want to seem too happy about it.

The star running back was traded to the 49ers from the Carolina Panthers last October and is currently under contract with San Francisco until 2025.

When news of his trade first broke, McCaffrey made a comment that hurt the Panthers’ franchise’s soul: “I firmly believe it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” And in many ways, it was.

He thrived in Kyle Shanahan’s versatile scheme and the 49ers’ established culture, and he joined a team stacked with talent from top to bottom. This was no QB-less, directionless, rebuilding franchise like the 2022 Panthers. This was a bona fide Super Bowl-contending team.

Despite the fact that leaving Carolina did wonders for McCaffrey’s career, he does regret saying those words and doesn’t look back on his time with the Panthers in a negative light.

McCaffrey recently said:

“I do want to make it clear that was nothing against Carolina when I said that. I have no bad blood and I love everybody there. I still keep in touch with a lot of my teammates there and a lot of the coaches who I had the privilege of playing for there.”

49ers’ Christian McCaffrey has no “bad blood” toward Panthers

Out of all the running backs in the league, McCaffrey’s nice guy personality, humility, and passion for the game make him tough to hate.

No one’s going to crucify him for being pumped up about the next chapter of his career, not after he gave five years to the Panthers to help the franchise gain a foothold in the NFC South.

Injuries plagued the end of his stint in Carolina, yet McCaffrey still endeared himself to Panthers fans with two back-to-back 1,000-plus rushing yard seasons in 2018 and 2019. The dual-threat back also recorded more than 600 receiving yards in his first three years in Carolina, and even with his assortment of injuries, the Panthers knew he was the equivalent of a Ferrari being wasted in a suburban garage.

Heading into the 2023 season, both the 49ers and Panthers have plenty to look forward to on the offensive side: the 49ers may see a jostle for the No. 1 starting quarterback spot between Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, and the Panthers have their franchise signal-caller and short king of the future, Bryce Young.

As the more well-constructed team, San Francisco’s chances of postseason success are much higher than that of Carolina’s, but you won’t hear that coming out of McCaffrey’s mouth.

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