Christian McCaffrey College Stats: From Stanford Standout to Super Bowl Superstar

    Before he was a superstar playing in Super Bowl 58, running back Christian McCaffrey had a spellbinding career for the Stanford Cardinal.

    The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs are set to square off this Sunday in Super Bowl LVIII, four years after the Chiefs handed the 49ers a 31-20 loss in Super Bowl LIV. Both sides have plenty of new faces since that meeting, but few are as impactful and significant to his team’s success as 49ers all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey.

    The 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl running back (2019, 2022, 2023) and the NFL’s leading rusher this season (1,459) was once a collegiate phenom for the Stanford Cardinal. Before CMC embarks on the world’s biggest stage for his first Super Bowl, let’s journey back to one of the most electrifying college football careers the game has witnessed.

    Christian McCaffrey’s Elite Play for Stanford

    Ranked Colorado’s top overall high school prospect for the 2014 recruiting class by 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rivals, McCaffrey arrived at Stanford ready to go, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman.

    He split time in the backfield, gaining 300 yards rushing on 42 carries (7.1 per carry), while catching another 17 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned nine punts for 154 yards (17.1 per) and five kickoffs for 91 yards (18.2 per), proving he could be a future weapon on offense and special teams for Stanford.

    Stanford head coach David Shaw fully unleashed McCaffrey the following season in 2015 for what would go down as one of the most dynamic single-season performances in college football history.

    He broke the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season with 3,864 — 2,019 rushing, 645 receiving, 1,070 on kickoff return, and 130 on punt return — passing Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders (3,248, 1988).

    McCaffrey scored at least once in all four categories with eight rushing touchdowns, five receiving, one punt return, and one kickoff return.

    He punctuated that season by becoming the first player in Rose Bowl history to break 100 yards rushing (172) and receiving (109) while setting the Rose Bowl record for most all-purpose yards (368).

    He was a 2015 consensus All-American, the AP College Football Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, and the Paul Hornung Award winner (most versatile college football player), yet he was runner-up for the game’s most prestigious individual award — the Heisman Trophy.

    Alabama’s Derrick Henry rushed for 2,219 yards that season, sixth most ever for a single season in college football and 200 more than McCaffrey. That was enough for Heisman voters to give the nod to Henry over McCaffrey, with 387 first-place votes for Henry and 290 for McCaffrey.

    Injuries limited McCaffrey to 11 games his junior season in 2016, but he still finished second nationally in all-purpose yards with 2,327 — 1,603 of those yards coming on the ground.

    While he set the single-season rushing record at Stanford his sophomore year, it was his junior year that he set the program’s single-game rushing record with 284 yards on the ground against Cal.

    After the season, he stirred up some controversy by forgoing the Sun Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft. While that decision was initially met with resistance, it has since become commonplace for high-end draft prospects not to risk injury in a bowl game.

    McCaffrey in the Stanford Record Books

    McCaffrey still owns the NCAA single-season all-purpose yards record (3,864), but he had some of his Stanford records broken not too long after he left. Bryce Love broke McCaffrey’s single-season rushing record (2,118) and single-game record (301) in 2017.

    Surprisingly, he also doesn’t have the most career all-purpose yards by a Stanford player, with Darrin Nelson (7,120, 1977-1981) holding that honor for the better part of four decades.

    MORE: List of Heisman Trophy Winners by Year

    In fairness to McCaffrey, Nelson played a full season more. Despite playing one year less, the future Carolina Panther and 49ers standout was just 133 yards off Nelson’s mark. Although he doesn’t hold those accolades, McCaffrey remains prominently featured amongst Stanford record holders.

    • 1st single-season all-purpose yards (3,864, 2015)
    • 2nd single-season all-purpose yards (2,327, 2016)
    • 2nd career all-purpose yards (6,987, 2014-2016)
    • 1st single-game all-purpose yards (461, 2015)
    • 2nd single-game all-purpose yards (389, 2015)
    • Tied 4th single-game all-purpose yards (369, 2015)
    • 6th single-game all-purpose yards (368, 2016)
    • Only Stanford player with consecutive 2,000+ all-purpose yards seasons
    • 3rd career rushing yards (3,922, 2014-2016)
    • 2nd single-season rushing yards (2,019, 2015)
    • 5th single-season rushing yards (1,603, 2016)
    • 2nd single-game rushing yards (284, 2016)
    • 4th single-game rushing yards (243, 2015)
    • 9th single-game rushing record (207, 2015)
    • 10th single-game rushing record (206, 2015)
    • Tied 1st single-game touchdowns (4)

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