Christian McCaffrey should keep on running — right to the NFL

Hey, look, Jim Plunkett just pulled out of the 1971 Rose Bowl retroactively to enhance his value in the NFL seniors’ league!

OK, it has’t gotten that bad yet. But the decisions of LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey to do just that have pressed a lot of hot buttons around the country. Some pessimists even predict that this will become a trend that seriously threatens the future of bowl games, not that we don’t have enough of them already.

In a perfect world, Fournette and McCaffrey would give it the old college try one more time. But c’mon, people, it’s almost 2017. This is the United States of America. If you haven’t noticed, loyalty has been on the way out here for a while now, especially in pro sports.

No, loyalty stops at the top. College coaches have quit on their teams in the middle of contracts for years, so it’s only fair that players be allowed to do the same. If the Los Angeles Rams bowled over Stanford coach David Shaw with a contract offer, for example, he would be out the door almost as quickly as McCaffrey runs a jet sweep.

In fact, if not for a few selfish grown-ups, McCaffrey might have one college game left in his career.

McCaffrey was run into the ground the last two seasons. Literally and figuratively. He touched the ball a ridiculous 751 times — and that doesn’t include several others that were called back because of penalties. Dude, this is a 20-year-old kid who’s barely 6 feet and 200 pounds in his flip-flops.

See, the more McCaffrey had the ball, the greater the chance for victory. And the more W’s for his team, the more Shaw improved his stock in NFL circles. Not to say that was his primary motivation, but that’s how college coaches ascend to the next level. Sure, McCaffrey was given an opportunity to make a name for himself, but you tell Balls who bore the greater risk.

The wheels didn’t come off McCaffrey this season, but predictably, they were a wobbly at times. He sat out the Notre Dame game because of an undisclosed health problem, wasn’t his old self in a few others. He didn’t get even a sniff of the Heisman Trophy that he deserved the previous season.

The odds that McCaffrey would suffer a catastrophic injury in his final game are slightly higher than he would be concussed by a flying sweet roll at the Coupa Cafe on campus. But when you have generational wealth at stake, one in a million is one too many.

If McCaffrey doesn’t look out for himself and his future, who will exactly?

GRUDEN WIMPS OUT: Rams quarterback Jared Goff can’t buy a break.

Goff might not be able to pad his statistics against Santa Clara this weekend because of a concussion, and the news got worse on Wednesday, when ESPN loafer Jon Gruden said he had no interest to coach the Rams or any other team in the near future.

“Right now I have no intentions of coaching,” Gruden told ESPN’s “Mike and Mike.” “I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I feel like I’m really close to the fire and I’m getting plenty of satisfaction out of doing what I’m doing.”

What Gruden does is a lot of nothin’. He gets paid $6.5 million to talk into a microphone on Monday nights every season, a cushy deal that has five years left.

Now you know why EPSN is in deep doo-doo?

Goff and Gruden might have been one of those Hollywood marriages that actually worked. The two hit it off on Gruden’s Quarterback Show last spring. So much so that the ex-Raiders coach said he could win as a coach with the Cal product.

“This kid will run through a brick wall to win a game,” Gruden said at the time. “He’s tough, he’s smart and he’ll shred you. … When you look at the physical abuse he took [at Cal], to keep coming back from that … That’s the kind of guy I am looking for.”

Apparently, Gruden doesn’t like Goff enough to take a real job, one that the Rams are reportedly prepared to pay upward of $10 million to fill each season.

THE PATRIOTS WAY: The New England Patriots can win a zillion Super Bowls and it won’t mean bupkis. It won’t change the fact that, in the game of life, head coach Bill Belichick and his posse are a bunch of losers.

That was evident yet again last week, when the first-place Patriots signed wide receiver Michael Floyd only hours after he had been found asleep at the wheel with his vehicle running. He is expected to be in uniform this weekend.

For some flunkies, a DUI gets you a place in the unemployment line. In the NFL, it gets you a promotion.

Five years ago, while in college, Floyd was arrested for DUI after he blew through a stop sign in the early morning. But he attended Notre Dame at the time, and since Notre Dame is holier than the rest of us, nobody thought much of it.

Uh, is it possible that Floyd has a problem? Does the NFL even care?

Bill and the Belicheats could give a spit about such trivial matters. Remember, this is the same bunch that once drafted a soon-to-be mass murderer, signed a running back who had sucker-punched an opponent and confronted fans after a loss and drafted a rotten apple even though he had allegedly punched a cop only days earlier

Seriously, if Charles Manson could kill it on the field, the Patriots would bring him in for a tryout.

JUST SAYIN’: The Santa Clara semi-pro team has no Pro Bowl selections. That’s one too many.

Still looking for an inexpensive Christmas gift for that someone special? Leave two Phony-Niners tickets on the dashboard in your unlocked vehicle, and you’ll find six when you get back.

The Sharks’ Brent Burns isn’t the best player in hockey — the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby still owns that domain — but the NHL can engrave his name on the Norris Trophy right now.

Dallas Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott took dumbness to a new level last weekend, when he pretended to hide in a Salvation Army kettle after a touchdown …

Pittsburgh Steelers’ airhead Le’Veon Bell quibbled about the lack of league-imposed punishment, which is like pot calling the kettle black …

But if Elliott wants to donate a fat check to the Salvation Army, that’s fine here.

THE LIST: Sure-miss picks against the spread for Week 15 of the NFL season …

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-8 points).

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5).

Cincinnati Bengals (+2) at Houston Texans.

Last week: 2-1. Season: 17-25 (.405).

YOUR TURN: “I haven’t really watched more than a couple of snaps of any Santa Clara game this season. Since the Yorks are clearly not going to sell, they need to hire good competent football people and stay out of the way. I am baffled to hear about players being signed to contract extensions. No one on that roster should be safe. They need to clean house. Until that happens, I will never spend another dime on 49ers anything, and the professional football team of Santa Clara will remain dead to me” — Delbert Davis, Pinole

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