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The Record

When Joe Perry carried the ball across the goalline for his tenth rushing touchdown of the year against the Los Angeles Dons in 1948, it was thought as nothing special. After all, the game was dominated on the ground in those days and the 49ers, who had yet to enter the NFL, were sure to enjoy their fair share of remarkable running backs.

But as the years dragged on by, that magic number 10 stood firm. Perry tied that mark in the 1953 finale in a 45-14 win against Baltimore and J.D. Smith tied it in the 1959 finale against the Packers. Even Billy Kilmer, the quarterback who led the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl 11 years later, tied it in the ninth game of his rookie year. But he was trying to establish himself as a passer while the 49ers were trying to keep starter John Brodie upright. It just wasn't meant to be for the young gunslinger.

And so the record stood. In 1993, Ricky Watters seemed destined to break it's timid spell, scoring three times in a win over Cincinnati. But alas, he sat out the next three games, with his ninth touchdown staring him in hte face the whole time. Although he scored his tenth touchdown in the season finale in a loss to the Eagles, one must wonder what might have been if he hadn't been hurt. Just two year later, with Watters gone and the 49ers scrambling to fill his shoes, Derek Loville tied the record in the season finale at Atlanta.

In 2009, Frank Gore tied the record with two touchdowns against the Rams to end the season on a high note. And so the record stood, unencumbered by the pursuit of excellence.

Until last night. On Thanksgiving night 2023, Christian McCaffrey broke the longstanding franchise record with two touchdowns. On his second touchdown, he not only broke the impenetrable record, but he also broke Roger Craig's record for most total touchdowns scored by a running back in a season, his 16th of the year.

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A notable achievement, but on a team so focused on passing and on spreading the ball around, individual totals will tend to lag more narrowly-focused teams.

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