49ers Predicted to Add Christian McCaffrey’s ‘Fearless’ Brother

Well, this would put a nice spin on what’s been an eventful 49ers offseason, one that could get even more eventful in the coming weeks. Yes, there is a chance that the 49ers will unite star Christian McCaffrey with his younger brother, Luke McCaffrey, in next month’s NFL draft.

49ers potential draftee Luke McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey, of course, famously eschewed the path of his father—legendary Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey—to become a running back, his younger brother Luke McCaffrey followed dad’s footsteps. Sort of.

Luke began his collegiate career at Nebraska, as a quarterback. But he transferred to Rice and, after 20 career games under center, McCaffrey turned back to his roots and became a receiver for the last two years of his time in college. In fact, last season he was a good one, racking up 992 yards on 71 catches with 13 touchdowns.

Now, he’s expected to be a middle-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. And at NFL.com, analyst Chad Reuter has the 49ers using their third-round pick (No. 94 overall) to scoop up McCaffrey and team him with his big brother.

Luke McCaffrey Had a Productive Combine

Luke McCaffrey ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL’s draft combine last month, which ranked 19th among all receivers at the event. He had a production score of 73, according to the NFL’s NextGen stats, which was 14th among receivers, and an athleticism score of 77, which was 25th.

Luke is still fairly new at the receiver position, but his father was a 13-year veteran (including one season with the 49ers) and former Pro Bowler with John Elway in Denver, who recorded three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

From the NFL.com scouting report:

“Big slot target who comes from high-end NFL bloodlines and who showed noticeable improvement in his second season at the position. … He catches with soft hands, great focus and extreme toughness. McCaffrey struggles to release and bypass press coverage and might not have enough separation quickness or top-end speed to uncover against NFL defenders.

“However, with additional time to learn the position and fine-tune his route running, McCaffrey might be able to follow his dad and brother into the league as a possession slot receiver.”

The scout, Lance Zierlein, added that Luke McCaffrey is, “Fearless into the teeth of the defense and excels at combat catches.”

Versatility Would Intrigue 49ers

McCaffrey could be an intriguing prospect for a team willing to be patient as he develops his skill in the receiver position. The 49ers have the ability to wait on him, and the fact that his brother is in San Francisco as a mentor has to make the prospect of drafting him all the more tempting.

The 49ers figure to start thinking long-term at the receiver spot soon, especially with the possibility that they won’t be able to hold onto both stars Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk because NFL salary cap restrictions.

They may be able to keep the two together for the short term, but once quarterback Brock Purdy comes off his rookie scale contract and gets big money, they will need other options.

Luke McCaffrey has the versatility that Kyle Shanahan likes. When Luke got to Rice, he focused less on a defined position and more on how he could simply be a football player.

“I eventually got to a point where I freed myself open to kind of just being a football player — I didn’t limit myself to not playing QB, but I talked with coach (Mike) Bloomgren at Rice, and we talked about maybe playing free safety, maybe running back … being a gadget guy trying everything,” he said.

“Day 1 of spring ball, we were like, ‘Alright, let’s start with wide receiver.’ It ended up being a whole heck of a lot of fun — I just felt so natural, so free in doing that. I felt like I could really be myself.”

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