San Francisco 49ers

49ers receiver's hike becomes a rescue mission. 'Most people wouldn't have made it'

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Max McCaffrey (83) during an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Max McCaffrey (83) during an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz.

An impromptu hike on Saturday turned into a rescue mission for 49ers receiver Max McCaffrey and his brothers.

McCaffrey, brothers Christian and Dylan, and two friends were about the reach the summit of Castle Rock outside of Denver when they saw a man fall 20 feet from the summit onto rocks below. He turned out to be Dan Smoker Sr., 72, who was hiking with his 13-year-old grandson, Eli.

The McCaffreys grew up in the area and Max said he's done the 10-minute hike perhaps 15 to 20 times in the past. Saturday was the first time there had been an emergency.

"Right as we got up to the top he just fell onto his head 20 feet below," McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey's group rushed to the badly injured hiker and called 911.

At one point, McCaffrey said, Smoker shut his eyes and stopped breathing. That's when their friend, Michael Mann, started chest compressions. After a few tense moments, Smoker's breathing resumed.

"He's a fighter," McCaffrey said. "That fall – most people wouldn't have made it."

When medical crews arrived, McCaffrey and his group helped carry Smoker over the uneven rocks on a stretcher to a car, which brought the injured man to a waiting ambulance.

The Carolina Panthers website, which interviewed Christian McCaffrey, a running back for the team, said that Smoker's injuries included a broken femur, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine fractured ribs and a broken neck. He was in critical but stable condition at a Denver-area hospital.

"Because of Michael Mann, (Max McCaffrey, Christian McCaffrey) and a few other amazing folks, my 13yo son isn't telling a story about how he went on a hike with his grandpa and his grandpa died," Smoker Sr.'s son, Dan Jr., wrote on Twitter this week. "He's telling a story of strength, hope, and human goodness."

Max McCaffrey said he and his brothers visited the hospital the next day where they prayed with the family and met with Smoker's grandson.

"He handled it incredibly well for a 13-year-old," McCaffrey said of Eli. "At one point his cellphone battery ran out as he was trying to contact family members. He kept it together really well."

The McCaffreys are the sons of former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey, who was a teammate of 49ers general manager John Lynch at Stanford. Ed McCaffrey spent the 1994 season with the 49ers but the bulk of his career – nine seasons – with the Denver Broncos where he played under 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike.

Max played at Duke where he caught 117 passes for 1,341 yards and 12 touchdowns. He joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent last year and also has spent time with the Saints and Jaguars. He did not appear in any games for 49ers after joining them in December but will be in the mix at receiver when the offseason program begins next month.

Christian also played at Stanford and was the eighth overall pick in last year's draft. He ran for 435 yards and caught 80 passes as a rookie for the Panthers. Dylan plays quarterback for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee