The Carolina Panthers moved into a three-way tie atop the NFC South following a 46-27 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Let’s take a look at the dancing, the sulking, and the walking off.
The Offense: two fumbles and an interception are never good, but turnovers aside, the offense was rolling on Sunday. Cam Newton passed for 353 yards and four touchdowns. Fozzy Whittaker rushed for 100 yards, and the offensive line kept Newton clean all game. Despite shutting out the Rams last week, the 49ers defense isn’t all that good, but you still need to have a pretty good offensive day to put up the numbers that the Panthers put up against an NFL defense. The Panthers 529 total yards was the third most in franchise history.
Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen: Yes, they’re part of the offense, but they deserve their own mention because these two are becoming an unstoppable duo. I predicted that they’d both be over 1,000 yards for the year, and they are well on pace. Benjamin had 108 yards and two touchdowns while Olsen had 122 yards, including a 76-yard reception for a touchdown. Whenever Cam needs a big play, he can always count on KB or Olsen.
Luke Kuechly: I really didn’t think Luke had a spectacular game, but FOX announcer Ronde Barber had the audacity to say that 49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman might be the best MLB in the league. In the same game featuring the best middle linebacker in the league. Kuechly’s interception iced the game for the Panthers, and I’m demanding an apology from Ronde Barber.
Ted Ginn: His muffed kick off allowed the 49ers to get back in the game, but then he returned the next kick off to the opposing 40. He failed to get both feet in on a touchdown pass, but then he made a great over the shoulder catch for a 51 yard gain. He short armed what would have a big gain, but Cam missed him on a slant that would’ve led to a big gain. Basically, Ted Ginn had a Ted Ginn day.
The Pass Rush: The Panthers let Josh Norman walk to Washington and went with a young secondary because they trusted the scheme. The strength of the scheme was supposed to be the pass rush. If the quarterback didn’t have enough time to throw, he couldn’t expose a young secondary. The problem is, the quarterback has enough to throw. The Panthers simply haven’t generated much of a pass rush through two games. The 49ers offensive line appears to be much better than given credit for, they shut down a strong Rams front-seven as well, but it’s a little troubling that the Panthers line, which is supposed to be a strength, can’t get to the quarterback.
The Walk Off
Turnovers: Four turnovers overall. Rarely do you win a game win you turn the ball over four times, but luckily the Panthers forced three turnovers of their own. Still, turning the ball over four times, two of which were completely avoidable (the Cam fumble and Ginn muff), is never a good thing.
Jonathan Stewart: I’m blaming Steve Cook for all Jonathan Stewart related injuries. In our fantasy league, I told him to stay away from Stewart because he’s injury prone and I thought Cameron Artis-Payne would get more touches this year. Payne has been inactive in the first two games, but Stewart is already hurt. He lasted one full game and about two plays in this game. The Panthers may as well just keep him out during the regular season and hope that he holds up in the playoffs.