The Carolina Panthers routed the San Francisco 49ers, by a score of 23-3 in their Week One matchup. This was Carolina’s first attempt at seeing what their new offense had to offer. Folks wondered what Cam Newton would look like. Would he be able to throw? Would he still be the playmaker of 2015? The world finally got their answer. After the quarterback settled, he was able to lead his team to their first victory. We’re going to delve into what they did. Also, what didn’t the 49ers do? What was good about this game? Bad? Ugly?
Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly
Newton started off pretty rusty. It rained short throws, overthrows, an interception, and even a fumble. Definitely not what fans wanted to see from their star quarterback. There was a bright spot when he finally got a touchdown pass to Russell Shephard which broke the scoring dry spell. In the second half, he went 6-for-6 and started looking more like the Cam everyone was used to seeing. He even ran the ball on two of the plays.
The defense was the biggest story of the game, holding the 49ers’ offense to just three points. As if staging the first-half shutout wasn’t enough, they did it with the type of flare most defenses aspire to have. They were able to shut the ‘Niners down on three fourth-down attempts, even after Newton threw his pick. That’s what the coaches need to see, a strong defense.
San Fran’ obviously has something special in running back, Carlos Hyde. Their offense started out going to the third-year back, but as their deficit grew, their desire to waste time running the ball went down. Had they stuck with the running game, they may have scored more than the three they did.
Their defense has lots of growing to do as well. There were some costly penalties against the young squad, including a personal foul on Jaquiski Tartt who hit a defenseless player. Tartt’s day wasn’t all bad, however, being held responsible for a huge interception of a pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin.
The overall performance from the 49ers was down right ugly. The franchise shouldn’t hit the panic button just yet though. Kyle Shanahan is a first-year head coach with eight years of offensive coordinating experience under his belt. Luckily for this team, their offense is what needs improvement.
It looks like Reuben Foster is going to be out for a while after sustaining a high ankle sprain during the first half. The 49ers were looking forward to the dimension the rookie out of Alabama would add to their defense.
Good Panthers, bad 49ers
If Carolina keeps playing the way they did during this game, we could be seeing another Super Bowl run in the making. Newton shook the rust off and made plays. For the first time, he relied on his arm, and not his legs.The defense was sound, everyone did their jobs and made sure to get off the field quickly.
The 49ers need to find ways to get their offense going. It was apparent that the run game was working for them, but they went away from it as the point gap widened. Until Brian Hoyer restores confidence within himself to march his offense down the field, the drive should start with Hyde. The defense has taken a big hit, but can bounce back from this with a big performance next week.
In the end, Carolina improves to 1-0 as they head back to Charlotte for their home opener. San Francisco, not so lucky as they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.