"In hindsight, I firmly believe it's the best thing that ever happened to me," McCaffrey said last week at the annual Dwight Clark Legacy Series event, via Cam Inman of The Mercury News.
CMC's initial anger stemmed from the Panthers trading him after suggesting they wouldn't. However, joining a Kyle Shanahan-led 49ers team with an offense full of playmakers and a defense ranked among the league's best made the transition easier.
McCaffrey's father, Ed, was part of the Niners organization for one season, in 1994, when San Francisco won its last Super Bowl. The 26-year-old running back said joining an NFL club with such a rich tradition makes the entire operation sweeter.
"I say this with the utmost respect. This is a family. It's the first time I felt like, even alumni, just getting to know these guys, it's special, it's different, and there's a reason it's sustainable and has been for so long," McCaffrey said. "The word I would use now is, just very proud to be a part of this organization."
The franchise surely feels pretty good about the trade, too, as McCaffrey generated more than 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in 11 games for San Francisco. But his influence on the offense extends beyond just his prolific production, with Shanahan noting how much CMC's mere presence on the field opens up new opportunities for the offense.
"It makes it easier. It calms your mind a little bit. You don't have to make as much stuff up," Shanahan said at the event. "Everyone is, 'Oh you got him now. How creative are you going to be?' It's like, um, you don't have to be as creative.
"The defense has got to help the guy guarding him. That's where it gets cool. That's what I love so much about Christian."
The feeling is clearly mutual.