49ers Dissected in 46-27 Loss to Panthers


Sunday afternoon, the San Francisco 49ers suffered a brutal loss to the Carolina Panthers, who were coming off a bitter week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos. In their home opener, the Panthers took down the 49ers 46-27; the Niners fall to 1-1.

Throughout the 1st quarter, the 49ers were in good shape. On QB Cam Newton’s first pass attempt, he threw an interception to SS Antoine Bethea. The 49ers had some success on the ground with RB Carlos Hyde, but eventually handed it off one too many times, getting stuffed for a loss. They settled for a field goal.

Later in the quarter, it appeared WR Ted Ginn Jr. had burned CB Tramaine Brock for a 42 yard touchdown, but Ginn was out of bounce and the 49ers’ defense managed to force a punt.

The 49ers’ defense continued to be superb in the 1st. Unfortunately for the their offense, with 4:14 left in the quarter, Hyde, not known for butter fingers, fumbled the ball. Panthers’ LB Shaq Thompson recovered the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.

At the end of the quarter, the Panthers led 7-3.

On the first drive in the second quarter, the Panthers had strung together a nice series until the 49ers forced a fumble which LB Ray-Ray Armstrong recovered. The ensuing drive culminated in a 28 yard touchdown pass from Gabbert to WR Torrey Smith, who was almost a non-factor against the Los Angeles Rams in week 1.

Newton wasted no time, however, as he threw a 78 yard touchdown pass to TE Greg Olsen on his first snap of the next drive.

The Panthers led 17-10 at half time after scoring a field goal.

In the third quarter, the Newton threw a touchdown pass on the Panthers’ first drive, while Gabbert and the 49er offense struggled to get a first down. On the Panthers’ second drive, Brock got burned by Ginn for a huge gain to set up another Panthers’ touchdown, at which point they led 31-10.

Towards the end of the 3rd quarter and beginning of the 4th, the 49ers started to show some signs for life. LB NaVorro Bowman forced a Newton fumble, and the 49ers scored a field goal.

On the ensuing kickoff, Ginn casually fumbled the ball at the 2 yard line, yielding to a Gabbert rushing touchdown. These scores, however helpful, resulted from the Panthers’ carelessness, not from solid plays from the 49ers’ offense.

After a huge return by Ginn to set up a Panthers’ field goal, Gabbert found his rhythm with a 75-yard touchdown pass to TE Vance McDonald, bringing the 49ers within 7, as the Panthers led 34-27.

The Panthers took over from that point, however, scoring a 49-yard field goal on the next drive; then LB Luke Kuechly  intercepted a Gabbert pass to nail the coffin shut; WR Devin Funchess caught a difficult touchdown pass from Newton to put the Panthers up 43-27.

In a game where they were massive underdogs, the 49ers were simply outplayed on both sides of the ball until the final quarter. The ultimate disadvantage was the 49ers’ inability to cover the Panthers’ receivers.

WR Kelvin Benjamin absolutely burned the 49ers, always coming up with a huge play when the Panthers needed it. He finished with 7 receptions for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns. Olsen, the other star receiver, finished with 5 receptions, for 122 yards and a touchdown. Newton stuffed the stat sheet, going 24/40 with 353 yards, 4 touchdowns, and one interception.

Gabbert went 17/36 with 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and 243 passing yards.

If the 49ers can capture the Monday Night Football magic they had against the Los Angeles and exploit Seattle’s weak offensive line and lack of all-star receivers, they might be able to pull off the upset. Sunday, however, they were simply overmatched and overpowered.

Tej is a Bay Area native and Senior Staff writer for NinerFans.com. A devout San Francisco 49ers and Golden State Warriors fan, Tej is determined to get you the information you crave. His work has been featured on the FanSided Network, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated.