San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart: Fantasy Impact of Christian McCaffrey Trade

What does the San Francisco 49ers depth chart look like after the Christian McCaffrey trade, and what are the fantasy football implications?

The San Francisco 49ers depth chart saw a serious shake-up on Thursday night as they traded for RB Christian McCaffrey. Adding a talented RB like McCaffrey and trading four picks, including a 2023 second-round selection, is a massive move for the 49ers.

What does this addition do to the 49ers’ depth chart, and what are the fantasy football impacts for McCaffrey, Jeff Wilson, and Elijah Mitchell? Let’s look at the situation in San Francisco after a monster in-season trade.

San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart Following Christian McCaffrey Trade

On the surface, this trade seemed somewhat crazy. With Mitchell and Wilson, the 49ers already had two talented running backs on their roster. However, with Mitchell still on the injured reserve list and potentially a few weeks away from returning, the 49ers’ depth chart at RB did look a little thin in terms of depth.

The last two weeks have seen journeyman back Tevin Coleman seeing more opportunities behind Wilson. However, it would not be a surprise to see Coleman released following the acquisition.

Then there is Tyrion Davis-Price, who is returning from injury, but was extremely inefficient in his only opportunity so far back in Week 2. The other options on the 49ers roster and practice squad included Jordan Mason and Marlon Mack.

Therefore, it makes sense that the 49ers wanted to add another back, but for it to be someone so high profile is the surprising element. McCaffrey would be expected to slot in atop the 49ers RB depth chart, with Wilson initially serving as the primary change of pace back and potentially even handling short-yardage duties.

When Mitchell returns, the expectation would be that he becomes the primary alternative for the position. However, given the injury histories of Mitchell, Wilson, and McCaffrey, it would not be a surprise if we see them sharing touches throughout the remainder of the season.

Here is how the 49ers’ depth chart is expected to look following the McCaffrey trade:

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Jeff Wilson (Elijah Mitchell when he returns)
  3. Tyrion Davis-Price
  4. Jordan Mason

Fantasy Impact for McCaffrey, Mitchell, and Wilson

Whatever way you look at this, all three of these fantasy options see a downgrade in value. McCaffrey was the only real show in town in Carolina, so he dominated the touches at the RB position. It would be ambitious to expect McCaffrey to continue averaging 14 rushing attempts and over seven targets per game going forward.

That is not to say McCaffrey will have little fantasy value going forward. The 49ers gave up enough that we can expect to see significant usage. However, this move caps McCaffrey’s ceiling, with uncertainty over how the 49ers will handle things such as goal-line work.

Fantasy managers should show caution in Week 7. Even if McCaffrey is active, his playbook knowledge, and therefore, his usage, will likely be limited. If anything, ESPN”s Adam Schefter reports that he will have limited red zone packages.

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However, while it might be prudent to leave McCaffrey on the bench in Week 7, beyond that, he should still be a weekly starter. We might not see his full usage until after the 49ers’ bye in Week 9, but it will be hard not to start him in what will be viewed as a must-win game for the 49ers against the Rams in Week 8.

The biggest dips in fantasy value come for Wilson and Mitchell. Wilson’s fantasy value was already expected to dip when Mitchell came back, but any sell high opportunities that remained have just largely evaporated. The best-case scenario for Wilson’s fantasy value is that McCaffrey is active this week, and Wilson still sees double-digit touches.

In that instance, fantasy managers may be able to sell high if others in the league still believe Wilson is the lead back for Week 8. It is a tough sell, but it is worth trying because, from Week 8 onwards, Wilson’s fantasy value is only going to drop further. Even if McCaffrey were to get hurt, we would still expect Mitchell to come back and take significant touches.

For those managers stashing Mitchell, this is a hammer blow. Mitchell was a popular name in drafts this year as the 49ers lead back. After getting less than one game out of him, he will come back to a significantly changed landscape. The best-case scenario for Mitchell seems to be that he sees 8-10 touches per game and gets the goal-line work if the 49ers look to protect McCaffrey in those situations.

If you are a brave fantasy manager, now would be the time to enquire about buying Mitchell cheap. The news that McCaffrey is in San Francisco will be frustrating for his fantasy manager.

However, looking longer term, Mitchell should be the second option on the 49ers’ depth chart when he returns. We know McCaffrey has had trouble staying healthy, and you are ultimately trading for a potential bell cow.

While you would not want to invest huge assets in acquiring Mitchell, a speculative, low-price trade is intriguing. Test the waters, especially if you have an IR spot to stash him on for the next few weeks, but be willing to walk away if his current fantasy manager wants anything more than a back end of your roster bench stash.

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