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49ers reward Christian McCaffrey with a 2-year contract extension

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers rewarded All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey with a contract extension after he won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award in his first full season with the team.

A person familiar with the deal said it’s worth $19 million per year over two years. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the terms of the deal were not announced by the team. Pro Football Talk first reported the new contract.

“Business is business,” McCaffrey said Tuesday. “It’s part of this game. Both sides were mutually very respectful the whole time. Just proud and happy that we got something like this done.”

McCaffrey was on hand at the start of San Francisco’s mandatory minicamp after skipping the voluntary practices the previous two weeks. He didn’t take part in work on the field because the Niners didn’t want to rush him into action.

McCaffrey has helped transform San Francisco’s offense since being acquired in a trade from Carolina midway through the 2022 season. In 27 games for the Niners, McCaffrey has rushed for 2,205 yards and 20 touchdowns and caught 119 passes for 1,028 yards and 11 scores.

He led the NFL last season with 2,023 yards from scrimmage and was tied for the league lead with 21 touchdowns.

McCaffrey, who turns 28 on Friday, now will be under contract through the 2027 season. But coach Kyle Shanahan said he has no concerns about paying a running back like McCaffrey into his 30s, when most backs struggle to produce.

“When you look at Christian, just as an individual, I’m not going him to compare anybody else,” Shanahan said. “Christian is one of the more talented people I’ve ever been around in my life. But if I didn’t speak about that, I’d say he’s almost the biggest overachiever I’ve been around in my life in terms of how obsessive he is with every little thing. … As you get older, with age, you lose a step or something. That’s not what makes Christian great.”

McCaffrey was already the highest-paid running back in the NFL based on a $16 million-a-year extension he signed with Carolina in 2020 and now becomes the rare running back to cash in for a third contract, which he hopes will help other backs get paid more as well.

McCaffrey was one of several star running backs who were outspoken last summer when several top players at the position struggled to get long-term contracts.

“I think it’s really important,” he said. “Running back has been undervalued for a long time now. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction.”

The Niners were missing two players for the mandatory minicamp, with All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams excused for the first day to attend his daughter’s graduation and star receiver Brandon Aiyuk staying away in a contract holdout that could cost him more than $100,000 in fines.

Shanahan said he’s not concerned about Aiyuk’s absence and remains hopeful that a deal will get done.

“It doesn’t change at all,” he said. “You find out when guys are in those situations whether they come or not. Some guys come because they want to avoid a fine and some don’t.”

Aiyuk was a key part of San Francisco’s offense last season, when he formed a great connection with quarterback Brock Purdy. Aiyuk had 75 catches and a career-high 1,375 yards last season with seven touchdowns and he earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Aiyuk is set to play on the fifth-year option worth about $14.1 million this season and wants a long-term contract that would pay him significantly more money based on his production so far in his career. Several top receivers have signed new contracts this offseason, raising the market for top wideouts to the range of $30 million a year.

Fellow receiver Deebo Samuel, who went through a similar contract dispute two years ago, said he has been in contact with Aiyuk about how to handle what he described as a “stressful” situation.

“At the end of the day, you want to get what you deserve and at the end of the day it will happen,” Samuel said. “But it’s not going to happen in the timely manner that you want it to happen. It’s just a waiting game.”

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More NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

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