OWINGS MILLS — San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey leads the NFL in rushing yards.
He is also a threat to catch the ball downfield.
He’s a player the Ravens will keep a close eye on each time San Francisco snaps the ball.
“[Christian McCaffrey] is obviously a great player, and I think the way that they use him is a little bit different than how conventional running backs are being used, because a lot of times, he’s playing a receiver role for them,” Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said. “He’s a part-time receiver, part-time running back, blocker – lead blocker. So, the way they’re able to make those guys interchangeable parts is impressive.”
The 49ers have a run-heavy offense and average 4.7 yards per rushing attempt. McCaffrey leads the NFL with 1,292 yards rushing. The Ravens are ranked 10th against the run, allowing 102.1 yards per game.
“[McCaffrey] is one of the best in our league and for good reason,” Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton said. “He’s [well] versed at a lot of different things that you can do. He’s good in pass pro [protection], he’s good catching the ball, [and] obviously, he’s good at running the ball, as well.
“He presents a lot of challenges, and he’s been doing it for a long time, so respect to him. But I feel like on our side, we have a good plan [to] try and slow him down, and I think if we execute, we’ll be good.”
McCaffrey also ranks second on the team in receptions (57) and first in touchdown catches (seven).
He’s not the 49ers’ only playmaker.
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is the biggest downfield threat with 59 receptions for 1,090 yards, which is second in the NFL, and six touchdowns. Deebo Samuel is also a threat to run the ball and averages 5.5 yards per carry. Samuel also has 787 yards receiving with six scores.
Tight end George Kittle is one of the best players in the league gaining yards after a reception. He has caught 55 passes for 865 yards with six touchdowns.
Quarterback Brock Purdy is having an MVP-caliber season, ranked second in the league with 3,795 yards passing with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens need to be aware of all the 49ers’ weapons.
“They kind of find a way to get every guy the ball [and] all their players the ball. Christian McCaffrey is obviously a big part of that, but Deebo [Samuel] is big part of that. They have guys everywhere that they interchange, [and] they put in different in spots. They kind of play all the positions together. They just do a really good job of it, and that’s kind of how they do it.”