JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Christian McCaffrey was standing on the sideline with several other starters, seemingly done for the day until the San Francisco 49ers started driving late.
Suddenly, they had a chance to score again — and a chance to get McCaffrey in the end zone again.
Coach Kyle Shanahan decided to put his biggest star back in a lopsided game in hopes McCaffrey would set an NFL record. It didn't work out. It didn't backfire, either.
McCaffrey finished with 142 total yards in San Francisco's 34-3 drubbing of Jacksonville on Sunday, but his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown, including the playoffs, ended at 17. It was his first game without a scoring play since a 13-0 win against New Orleans on Nov. 27, 2022.
He was tied with Lenny Moore for the NFL record, and the Niners tried to get him the mark by giving him the ball or targeting him on five consecutive plays in a 31-point blowout.
“Eighteen games in a row is a big record,” Shanahan said. “If we had a chance to do it, I was going to try to do it for him. It’s a little nerve-racking. Last thing I want to do is get him hurt. ... We got close. Wish we could have done it for him, but I think that was a pretty big accomplishment to do it for 17 games straight.”
The Jaguars, for one of the few times during a dismal performance, kept McCaffrey from scoring on four consecutive touches inside the 10-yard line. The last one was a pass to the front corner of the end zone on a fourth-and-5 from the 5.
Shanahan even explained the situation to Jaguars coach Doug Pederson at midfield after the game.
“Right when I saw him, I was like, ‘Hey, I hope you know why we were trying to do that,’” Shanahan said. “And he was very well aware. He said they were talking about it. Hopefully it didn’t offend him too much.”
Shanahan said he never second-guessed his call.
“I try to make it on what I think is right for the team,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong. But I’m not going to think about (reporters) until after the game. Then I can just deal with it.”
McCaffrey carried 16 times for 95 yards and caught six passes for 47 yards. But he didn't score like teammates George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk.
“Yeah, I (stink),” McCaffrey quipped. “Everyone else on the team scored except for me. No, that means a lot to me for them to keep me in at the end of the game there and try to get me that record. But, hey, I’ll take a huge win.”
McCaffrey now has 747 yards rushing and nine TDs this season to go along with 339 yards receiving and four scores.
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