Christian McCaffrey shines in his 49ers debut, but it remains to be seen if he can lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl victory.

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Granted, the team wasn’t fully healthy; defensive tackle Arik Armstead missed his second straight game due to a foot ailment, and safety Jimmie Ward was making his first big play after recovering from a broken hand and hamstring injuries. They shouldn’t, though, appear as thoroughly outclassed as they did against the Chiefs because that should not be enough.

All of which gets me back to the question: Would it have been wiser for the 49ers to allocate their draft funds to other positions with larger needs rather than running back, where there is a strong group?

Cornerback, interior defensive line, and interior offensive line would have probably been in that order if you had to rank the areas of concern for them entering the week. Better weather would have come after running back.

In the defense of the team, good cornerbacks are hard to come by. The 49ers searched, but nothing was available. Because Armstead is anticipated to come back at some point, they are known to be content along the defensive line, but it is still unclear how the likely season-ending injury to Javon Kinlaw (knee) will influence their depth and rotation.

The performance of the offensive line contradicts Shanahan’s perception that he can get by with what he has there because of his talent for play design. It has been at best uneven as a result of left tackle Trent Williams’ absence due to a severe ankle injury. Williams is perhaps the finest in the league at his position.

Maybe they think McCaffrey is dynamic enough to help the 49ers score more points than their opponents if necessary. On Sunday, they employed him as a rusher in the backfield and in the throw game, they placed him in the slot and on the outside. He ran for 38 yards on eight rushes and caught two passes for 24 yards. When he is on, he is a matchup nightmare because he can score at any time and from any place. He may, nevertheless, be a luxury for them.

The truth is that Shanahan has a history of using perceived weaknesses to his advantage when he was in that position. In each of his first five seasons, he had a different leading rusher. Elijah Mitchell was selected in the sixth round, while Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson went undrafted. One of them was an inheritor who was a second-round pick ( Carlos Hyde ). Four ran for at least 4.7 yards on average, but none gained more over 1,000 yards. Hyde had a 3.9 average.

McCaffrey is undoubtedly superior to all of them, but to what extent will this matter when other demands arise? And specifically given that he missed 20 games over the course of the previous two seasons due to injury?

The 49ers would contend that he is essential because of what he can provide to others in addition to what he can do on his own. Deebo Samuel, a wideout/running back depending on the play call and need, has been their primary offensive threat for the majority of the last two years.

But in practice, Samuel is less successful the more work you give him since he is less alert. There are occasions when Shanahan might think Samuel is on the field only to discover that Samuel has been taken out of the game by either him or the position coach for a break.

This brings us full round to McCaffrey. He will ease part of Deebo’s burden by being there. It will give them both a chance to be rested, which should, in theory, benefit the offense.

Tight end George Kittle stated, “He’s not going to be the savior, but he’s definitely going to help us out.

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Christian McCaffrey shines in his 49ers debut, but it remains to be seen if he can lead San Francisco to a Super Bowl victory.

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