49ers RB Christian McCaffrey, and not QB Brock Purdy (or Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill), should be the NFL MVP favorite heading into Week 14.
Heading into the San Francisco 49ers Week 14 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks and coming off a convincing Week 13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy is the betting favorite to take home the 2023 NFL MVP Award. While the oddsmakers do have the award going to the right team — the best in football when fully healthy — they have the wrong player. Running back Christian McCaffrey is the real NFL MVP this season. Here’s why.
49ers RB Christian McCaffrey is the real NFL MVP
There are three words that define the 49ers and their dominance this season: When fully healthy.
General manager John Lynch has built an incredible team, and when everyone is on the field — especially on offense — there is almost no team in the league that can compete with them. This fact showed up in a 32-point win over the Dallas Cowboys and a 23-point win over the Eagles.
However, when stars like wide receiver Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams are out with injuries, the team is a lot different. That’s why the 49ers lost a stunning three games in a row in Weeks 6 through 8 with these two out.
If Brock Purdy was the real NFL MVP, as his current +300 odds suggest, he would have been able to carry the weight still having George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Juszczyk, and of course, Christian McCaffrey.
Purdy had quarterback ratings of 55.3, 81.6, and 94.2 in these games, which were three of his worst of the season. By comparison, his rating has been over 100 in seven of his nine other games featuring his full complement of weapons.
Who did carry the offensive load in those games with Samuel on the sideline? Christian McCaffrey. In Week 6, he had a season-low 14 touches (rushing attempts plus catches) and still put up a hard-fought 52 yards and a touchdown. In Week 7, with 18 touches, he had 96 yards and two touchdowns, and in Week 8, there were another 18 touches for 108 yards and two touchdowns.
And remember, those were his and the 49ers’ worst games!
McCaffrey is doing it all this season, and he deserves more credit. He is leading the league in rushing yards (1,032) heading into Week 14, as well as total touches (261) and total touchdowns (17). CMC is the engine that drives the 49ers’ offensive machine, not Brock Purdy.
Right or wrong, the NFL MVP Award traditionally goes to the quarterback of one of the best teams. The last time a non-quarterback won the award was over a decade ago in 2012, when Adrian Peterson took home the award.
What’s interesting about that situation is that in 2012, there were no dominant QB performances or dominant teams. For context, it was the season Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens beat Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in the Super Bowl. So, with that as the backdrop, Peterson’s overwhelming individual performance — 2,097 rushing yards, 131.1 yards per game, 13 touchdowns — on a good but not great 10-16 team won the award.
So, if an MVP QB’s team record matters but a position player MVP winner’s numbers are more important, that could be good for McCaffrey if he continues to lead the league in rushing yards, touches, and touchdowns. However, it also brings in competition from outside his team in the form of Tyreek Hill.
Hill is lighting the league on fire right now and threatening to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record by cresting the 2,000-yard mark. The Miami Dolphins WR had 1,481 yards in 12 games, and at 123.4 yards per game, he’s on pace to end the season with 2,098 yards.
This is an incredibly impressive feat, but wins should matter in the MVP race, whether you are a quarterback or not. As mentioned above, McCaffrey carried his team during its three losses, and that was when the offense was at full strength and his NFL MVP favorite QB wasn’t playing well. Outside of that, the 49ers have dominated everyone.
On the flip side, the Dolphins are 9-3, just like the 49ers, but they just can’t beat good teams, and no amount of Hill magic can help that. Miami has not beaten a team with a winning record yet this season. Of their nine wins, one has come against a .500 team (the then 0-3 Denver Broncos), and eight are vs. losing teams. Their three losses are to the 6-6 (then 2-1) Buffalo Bills, the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles, and the 8-4 Kansas City Chiefs.
Christian McCaffrey is the best and most important offensive player on the best team in football right now, and that is why he should be the NFL MVP. Brock Purdy and Tyreek Hill both have strong cases, but neither stack up to CMC’s, and that is why he should (but likely won’t) win the award.