National Football League
Kyle Shanahan won't play favorites among 49ers MVP candidates McCaffrey, Purdy
National Football League

Kyle Shanahan won't play favorites among 49ers MVP candidates McCaffrey, Purdy

Updated Dec. 14, 2023 12:48 p.m. ET

The 49ers might be the only team in the NFL with two viable MVP candidates as we enter the home stretch of its season. But their coach isn't picking favorites. 

Kyle Shanahan pleaded the fifth when asked about Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey's cases for the league's top individual award.

"I mean, are you trying to get me in trouble with those two guys?" Shanahan said. "That's the only reason I wouldn't overly comment on either one of them because I don't want them to cancel each other out."

Can 49ers' Christian McCaffrey, Dolphins' Tyreek Hill, or Eagles' Jalen Hurts win NFL MVP?


After initially taking a non-commital stance, though, Shanahan began making cases for both McCaffrey and Purdy depending on the voters' criteria for the award.

"If any non-quarterback's going to get a MVP, I don't get how Christian McCaffrey can't [win it]," Shanahan said. "I mean, he's amazing in what he has done all year. If it's going to a quarterback, then I don't have to talk about Christian. I can talk about our quarterback. If his numbers is all you see, then I think that solves it up. But, if you watch the film then it makes it even stronger, which to me is the most important thing."

As Shanahan alluded to, the award has traditionally been won by quarterbacks, at least in recent years. QBs have won the award in every season since 2012, when Adrian Peterson won it after rushing for over 2,097 yards. 

That's likely the reason why Purdy is a much bigger favorite to win the award than McCaffrey. The 49ers quarterback is listed as the co-betting favorite to win, holding the same odds as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (+150). McCaffrey's odds are much slimmer at +5000, though he holds the ninth-best odds to win the award and is just one of two non-quarterbacks (Tyreek Hill) to be among the 10 betting favorites to win MVP.

But McCaffrey might be having the best season for a running back since Peterson won the award in 2012. He's rushed for a league-best 1,177 yards, which is 193 yards more than any other running back. He also has 52 receptions for 437 yards, leading the league in yards from scrimmage (1,614) and is second in total touchdowns (17). Additionally, McCaffrey has scored a touchdown in all but one game this season, tying the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown (17). 

On the flip side, Purdy is also among the league's best at his position. He's third in passing yards (3,553) and tied for second in passing touchdowns (25). He also leads the league in passer rating (116.9) and his 9.9 yards per attempt is tied for the best mark in the NFL in the Super Bowl Era.

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers postgame analysis

Obviously, it's no surprise that the 49ers are having the year they're having with how well McCaffrey and Purdy are playing. With those two plus other offensive stars like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk  and George Kittle, the 49ers have the league's second-best offense and are third in scoring.

The only other time Shanahan coached an MVP winner in his career was in 2016, when he helped coach Matt Ryan to win MVP as the offensive coordinator of the Falcons. The Atlanta offense also led the league in scoring by more than four points per game that year and was second in total offense as many believe that's the most impressive unit Shanahan's coached in his career. 

Shanahan acknowledged that the 2023 Niners still have a ways to go to be in consideration for that title, but he thinks they can get there. 

"I'm not sure at all with the numbers," Shanahan said. "I would assume they're close. We're still not done with this year yet so I don't know, but it's got a chance to be like that."


Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more