Christian McCaffrey (calf) full participant in 49ers practice

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Wednesday, January 17, 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With the start of the San Francisco 49ers' playoff journey set for Saturday, running back Christian McCaffrey returned to practice on Tuesday after recovering from a right calf injury.

McCaffrey suffered what he and the Niners described as a "mild" calf strain in a Week 17 win against the Washington Commanders. He did not play in a meaningless Week 18 loss to the Los Angeles Rams with an eye toward returning at full strength for the playoffs.

He was back Tuesday when the top-seeded Niners opened their week of preparation for the NFC divisional round showdown with the Green Bay Packers.

McCaffrey was a full participant in the session and is full speed ahead for Saturday, according to coach Kyle Shanahan.

"I think he's geared up and ready to go, the same way he was last year," Shanahan said. "Probably the same way he was in a playoff game when he was 5 years old, too or a scrimmage. Christian is always the same. He's always waiting for that moment and he's been waiting for this moment for a while."

McCaffrey and the 49ers were optimistic over the past two weeks that he would be fine for the beginning of the postseason but it's still a welcome development given all McCaffrey has meant to San Francisco this season. Despite missing the final game of the year, McCaffrey won his first NFL rushing crown, finishing with 1,459 yards on the ground. That was 292 more than Derrick Henry, who finished second.

McCaffrey also led the league in scrimmage yards per game (126.4), first downs (114) and 10-plus yard runs (44). He finished tied for first in total touchdowns with 21.

Before the regular-season finale, McCaffrey had not missed a game as a Niner since arriving via trade in October 2022. But McCaffrey said he could have played in Week 18 if needed.

"I have played through worse," McCaffrey said at the time. "It's just one of those things where right now the situation we're in, precaution is probably better. But I knew I was going to be good regardless of what the test said. So, it was more of a cautionary situation and being smart about it than doing something stupid."

Because they had already clinched the NFC's top seed, the Niners did not have to play on wild-card weekend. They did, however, have a pair of practices on Thursday and Friday last week, even putting on full pads for the Friday workout. McCaffrey did not participate in either of those workouts.

Elsewhere on the injury report, the Niners appear to be rounding into good health at the right time. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell (knee), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (Achilles tendonitis) and safety Logan Ryan (groin) were the only players not expected to participate in Tuesday's practice, though Shanahan said Greenlaw and Ryan should be able to return on Wednesday.

Related Video