Christian McCaffrey touchdowns: How 49ers star can pass Jerry Rice for single-season TDs franchise record

The 49ers’ season has officially reached Super Bowl-or-bust territory, and individual accomplishments are likely far from their minds at this point. Still, there are a few at stake.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, quarterback Brock Purdy is a prime MVP candidate while running back Christian McCaffrey finds himself chasing Jerry Rice’s 49ers single-season touchdown record.

Rice spoke glowingly about McCaffrey’s run for the record during an appearance on Fred Warner’s podcast, revealing that he’s hoping to see the running back beat his mark. 

“What he brings to the table, I’m talking about from scrimmage, from rushing the ball, from catching the ball, scoring touchdowns, he does it all man, he does it all,’ Rice said, emphasizing that records are “meant to be broken.”

MORE: Updated NFL MVP rankings as Brock Purdy leads

Will McCaffrey actually break Rice’s record? Here’s what he has to do over the 49ers’ final three games to put his name in the history books.

Christian McCaffrey touchdowns 2023

McCaffrey has 20 touchdowns through 14 games, leaving him three shy of tying Rice’s record and four shy of breaking the record.

Rice originally set the record in 1987, when he found the end zone 23 times despite only playing 12 games. A prolific touchdown scorer, Rice’s 208 TDs are easily the most in NFL history. 

McCaffrey can’t match that mark, but he can etch his name in 49ers history over this final stretch of games. Could his path to the record be determined by whether the 49ers rest their starters in Week 17? Four touchdowns in three games is absolutely attainable for a player who has scored in all but two games this season and just managed three touchdowns last week. Scoring four in two games is a much more difficult task.

Then again, Kyle Shanahan put McCaffrey back into the 49ers’ game against the Jaguars with a 31-point lead just so he could have a chance to extend his consecutive games with a touchdown streak, so San Francisco could give McCaffrey every opportunity down the stretch with the record in mind.

McCaffrey and the 49ers close out the season against the Ravens, Commanders and Rams.

MORE: Why Kyle Shanahan prodded 49ers to make DK Metcalf “lose his mind”

49ers single-season TD leaders

The 49ers’ single-season touchdown list is dominated by Rice, who scored at least 15 touchdowns six different times in a San Francisco uniform.

No season stood out quite like Rice’s 1987 campaign, when he scored 23 touchdowns in just 12 games. Rice didn’t miss a game for the next nine seasons, but he still couldn’t put together another 20-touchdown season, let alone 23.

McCaffrey is already the second player in the 49ers’ illustrious history to post a 20-score season, and he’s set to seriously threaten Rice’s record over the final three games of the year.

Player TDs Season
Jerry Rice 23 1987
Christian McCaffrey 20 2023
Jerry Rice  17 1995
Jerry Rice 17 1989
Terrell Owens 16 2001
Jerry Rice 16 1993
Jerry Rice 16 1986
Terrell Owens 15 1998
Jerry Rice 15 1994
Roger Craig 15 1985

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