49ers - Panthers: So you're saying there's a chance?

Considering the Panthers situation is just about as perilous as the 49ers, this is indeed a winnable game for the 49ers.  If the offense rears its ugly head this could be a 9-6 stinker.  But if the 49ers offense can build on last weekend, it would not be entirely out of the realm of possibility that they make some good things happen.

I was checking out the Scouts Inc advanced scouting report and found something rather interesting:

The San Francisco 49ers are playing with poise from the great leadership of veteran QB Trent Dilfer. Dilfer still has a strong arm and can throw the ball with zip and accuracy. San Francisco is coming off a big win by beating a division rival last weekend, the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers have made it more difficult for the Cardinals to get a wild card spot. San Francisco is looking to keep the edge this weekend as it plays a struggling Carolina Panthers club.

Just last week the 49ers were a rudderless ship going downhill fast.  Suddenly we have an edge and are playing with poise?  Interesting how one victory can change the perception of a team.

49ers rushing offense
Staley and Gore will face a Carolina run defense that allowed 113 yards last weekend against the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers' run defense has declined recently due to missed tackles and not getting enough penetration against the run. The bright spot for the Panthers on defense all season has been rookie ILB Jon Beason. Beason isn't a big player, but he is intense, determined and puts himself in position to make plays.

Beason has had quite an impact rookie season.  Obviously Willis is our guy, but Beason is definitely going to be a rock of a middle linebacker for the Panthers going forward.

49ers Passing Offense
Dilfer had a good outing last weekend against the Cardinals and he's looking to have the same type of day this Sunday in Carolina...He still has the arm strength and he's always had the knowledge for the game...TE Vernon Davis is also someone that Dilfer looks for on option routes and corner routes since Davis' speed allows for him to get separation from defenders. Davis has the strength and speed that makes it hard for defenses to cover him with a linebacker or safety.

One of the reasons the Panthers aren't getting turnovers is because they aren't putting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forcing them to get rid of the ball before they want to. The sack numbers are also down this season, but Carolina must do better in both areas against the 49ers who are giving Dilfer enough time to deliver the football.

Ok, again, one win and suddenly Dilfer is getting enough time to deliver the football?  The scouts must have short memories.  If the 49ers can put together more solid o-line work this week, maybe I'll give it a little more credit.  

As far as The Disease is concerned, he didn't put up huge numbers last week, but he made a solid impact with a touchdown on a nice little catch.  Gore won't get 11 catches every game and DJack has been rocking the hands of stone, so The Disease will need to continue to step up.

Carolina Rushing Offense
Carolina's running game has to get back on track this Sunday against the 49ers. Running backs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams had a bad outing last weekend and they will need help from the offensive line to re-establish the ground game that was once their strength on offense...The 49ers' run defense is allowing 120.2 yards per game...This is the week where the Panthers need to take advantage of a 3-4 defense that isn't stout and that allows movement against the run. One of the best defensive players for the 49ers is rookie ILB Patrick Willis, plays with a downhill mentality and wants to meet opponents at the line of scrimmage.

Early on in the season the 49ers defended the rush quite well, but then struggled against the run thanks to overpursuit and piss-poor tackling.  Hopefully containing Edgerring James will carry over to the Panthers running back duo.

Panthers Passing Offense
There really isn't much to Carolina's pass offense...Regardless of who the quarterback is at this point in time, the Panthers don't have anyone who is healthy that can help them manage a game and complete a pass.

The 49ers have to take advantage of Carolina's situation and pressure, disguise and even drop seven or eight in passing situations to change up the looks and keep Carolina guessing.  The 49ers' secondary gave up 486 yards in the air last weekend.  If there is a week where Carolina can get any momentum in the passing game, it is this week.

While the 49ers are 24th in passing yards allowed per game, they have been slowly turning into a ball-hawking team.  While we'd all like them to get defensive points, the turnovers did finally pay off last week, setting up the offense on a short field.  When the offense put up a touchdown, I think it gave them some confidence that allowed them to bust out the way they did.

This game is obviously no gimme, but a win is out there for the taking.  With decent Vikings squad and a healthy Adrian Peterson in the hole, a victory this weekend would hopefully give the team some confidence coming home.

Oh and one other thing.  In the Scouts Inc reports they look at special teams and had this to say:

San Francisco punter Andy Lee is having a Pro Bowl caliber year. Lee has the hang time and distance to give the 49ers defense a lot of room to their backs.

With that in mind, I leave you with my favorite Niners Nation graphic.


Courtesy of wjackalope

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