Christian McCaffrey maintains his significant early-season workload

The son of the coach who proved that running backs can be treated as interchangeable parts has found a workhorse. And he’s riding him.

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose team traded for running back Christian McCaffrey last season, continues to get the most out of the 2022 comeback player of the year.

With three total games played over 12 total days, McCaffrey has 71 total touches.

Although he was on the field for only 51 snaps (61 percent of the total offensive output) against the Giants on Thursday night, he got the ball 23 times during those 51 plays.

McCaffrey continues to be one of the very best running backs in football. He had 119 yards from scrimmage against the Giants. For the year, he has 353 rushing yards and another 70 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Although the 49ers have multiple key players, McCaffrey has become the straw that stirs the drink. And the 49ers are paying him $12 million per year on the final three years of his contract, from 2023 through 2025.

In light of the ever-present risk of serious injury inherent to getting hit from every possible direction, it will be interesting to see whether McCaffrey asks for some of the $40 million in cap space that G.M. John Lynch intends to roll over to next year be devoted to sweetening the pot a bit for a guy who is one of the biggest reasons to believe the 49ers can get back to the Super Bowl and win it.

If McCaffrey does, it will be interesting to see whether the 49ers give him some of it.

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