San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan believes he has two legitimate contenders to be named NFL MVP on his roster, in quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey.
With the 49ers becoming the first team to book their playoff ticket earlier this week and currently leading the way for the top seed in the NFC, both Purdy and McCaffrey have been tipped as possible award winners.
Purdy has impressed throughout his first season as the Niners’ starting QB and is among the favourites for the prize after throwing for 3,553 yards this season, a figure only bettered by fellow candidates Tua Tagovailoa (3,697) and C.J. Stroud (3,631).
McCaffrey, meanwhile, is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,177 yards in his first full campaign since arriving from the Carolina Panthers, also running for 12 touchdowns this year.
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Speaking at a press conference to preview Sunday’s meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, Shanahan made the case for both players, but refused to pick a preferred winner.
“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.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 13, 2023
“If any non-quarterback’s going to get MVP, I don’t get how Christian McCaffrey can’t. I mean, he’s been amazing in what he has done all year.
“If it is going to a quarterback, then I don’t have to talk about Christian, I can talk about our quarterback.
“If his numbers are all you see, then I think that solves it. But if you watch the film, then it makes his case even stronger, which to me is the most important thing.”
The last non-quarterback to win the award was former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was named MVP in 2012.
Alongside Purdy, the other quarterbacks being touted for the award include the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts.