McCaffrey feels 49ers’ sense of urgency is at ‘all-time high’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Christian McCaffrey hasn’t been with the 49ers long, but the star running back already has caught on to the team’s winning culture.
Still, a sixth Super Bowl victory evades San Francisco’s grasp. The 49ers acquired McCaffrey in a trade last season to help reach that goal, but they instead fell short after a second straight NFC Championship Game loss.
With the 49ers’ start to the 2023 NFL season set for Sunday against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, McCaffrey believes the pressure to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy is amplified this year.
“I would say the sense of urgency is at an all-time high,” McCaffrey said during an exclusive interview with former Stanford coach David Shaw. “You can feel it in everything, not just practices, but in the weight room. You can feel it in the meeting room. You can feel that it’s — yes, we’re starting from scratch and each season is a new season, and you’ve replaced different players and you have to add guys here and there, but the culture feels set. …
“The most important thing in football is execution, but it’s very difficult to execute if the culture’s not there. And so when that is there, now you can focus on making plays.”
As general manager John Lynch promised when he was hired in 2017, the 49ers have built a Super Bowl-contending roster “brick by brick,” drafting and acquiring players with a common goal. While there have been some hiccups under center along the way, Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have fielded a roster that competes year-in and year-out.
Being surrounded by other high-performing players like George Kittle, Trent Williams and Fred Warner, to name a few, has McCaffrey excited for a full season with San Francisco — but their most recent NFC title loss to the Philadelphia Eagles has the All-Pro eager for redemption.
With a culture like the one McCaffrey has experienced as a Niner, that job becomes all the easier.
“You can focus on doing your job at a high level, and when [that culture’s] there, you start to get better and you start to make strides,” McCaffrey told Shaw. “And we treat each year like a new year, but that’ll definitely stick there. You want to remember that, note it: ‘This is what we did last year. We have a chance to play well, and all you need is a chance.’ “