It wasn’t easy leaving the only team he’s ever known, but in hindsight, Christian McCaffrey thinks being traded rejuvenated his career.

McCaffrey, who the Carolina Panthers dealt to the San Francisco 49ers during the 2022 season, shared his candid thoughts on the deal last week at the Dwight Clark Legacy Series event.

“In hindsight, I firmly believe it’s the best thing that ever happened to me but at the time, it was bittersweet,” McCaffrey said, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News. “I mean, you’re leaving, in my head I was pissed off to be frank. I felt like, ‘you guys don’t want me anymore’ and that’s what it is and it is what it is.”

He added: “I was hungry. I think that was the first emotion. I was hungry to kind of get back to the football that I knew I could play.”

Drafted in the top 10 by the Panthers in 2017, McCaffrey quickly became one of the league’s most dangerous dual-threat weapons out of the backfield. However, injuries spoiled the end of his tenure with the franchise as he suited up for just 10 games from 2020-2021.

The 26-year-old played a huge part in the 49ers’ run to the NFC Championship Game. In 11 games with his new team, McCaffrey rushed for 746 yards and put up 1,210 yards from scrimmage. His 4.7 yards per carry was his highest average since his 2019 All-Pro season.

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