Could former Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey win NFL MVP in 2023 if he continues his sensational run of recent form?
It's a bittersweet feeling to see Christian McCaffrey thriving away from the Carolina Panthers. Many thought trading him away to recoup some decent draft capital was the right thing to do, but parting ways with the league's best offensive weapon despite his injury problems has come with some grave consequences attached for a team in complete turmoil right now.
The Panthers haven't exactly invested well in offensive personnel if their first four games are any indication. Miles Sanders has lost any semblance of explosiveness within a bland scheme, which is having a ripple effect on the offensive line and quarterback Bryce Young to further complicate matters.
McCaffrey, on the other hand, has been nothing short of sensational to begin the campaign. While there were rumors about the running back's desire to start fresh away from Carolina in the state is was and continues to be in, one cannot look at the way he's currently performing and not think the Panthers failed a potentially generational talent at the position.
Carolina Panthers are sorely missing Christian McCaffrey
The former first-round selection already has 600 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns to his name. Something that's led many to wonder whether McCaffrey can buck the trend and become the first non-quarterback to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player award since Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson attained the distinction in 2012.
This was a sentiment echoed by San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, although the innovative mind stated via NBC Sports that there will be plenty of mitigating factors in play that could prevent such a scenario from coming to fruition.
"Yeah, I'm not sure on the whole rest of the league right now, but I thought he played like it last year when he was here. Christian's so awesome, he helps us win every time he's out there. But when you got a guy who can do everything, you can always have unbelievable stats. But he shares that with a lot of other guys, and we do whatever it takes to win. So that's to me, the thing that would make it the hardest for him, just stats and how it works out."- Kyle Shanahan via NBC Sports
If McCaffrey continues his current pace, he'll eclipse 2,000 all-purpose yards for the second time in his career. Considering how no quarterback aside from perhaps Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen is making a strong claim currently, the Stanford product has a decent opportunity if he can remain in red-hot form.
This would further add to Carolina's misery from a season that appears as if it could be lost before the bye week. Something that would no doubt bring further concerns about how general manager Scott Fitterer is running the team - a topic that is drawing increased scrutiny from the Panthers' disillusioned fanbase.
McCaffrey made the best of a bad situation in Carolina. But it was pretty obvious he'd had enough and once Matt Rhule became surplus to requirements, Fitterer believed there was no option other than to part ways with the All-Pro.
He didn't get a first-round pick for an elite performer in his prime. How the Panthers have spent the capital so far also leaves a lot to be desired based on the evidence.
McCaffrey and the Niners are a match made in heaven. And who knows, perhaps this marriage will result in a Super Bowl and NFL MVP for the dual-threat in 2023.