The San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers did what they could to make Week 2 interesting, but self-inflicted wounds cost the 49ers any chance at an upset. This is certainly not to take away from the Panthers performance. Their offensive line shut down the 49ers pass rush, Cam Newton was throwing dimes against the 49ers secondary, and their special teams were all over the place.
However, the 49ers did little to help themselves for extended stretches. Blaine Gabbert deserves his share of blame, but there is a lot to go around. Chip Kelly spoke after the game about the issues. He made it pretty simple, stating, “Too many self-inflicted wounds. Didn’t do what we needed to do to beat a really good football team.”
Aside from Gabbert’s own problems, the team had drops from pass catchers that cost them several opportunities. We saw Vance McDonald make a huge touchdown catch, but then the next series he dropped a sure deep ball. A week ago, the 49ers committed two penalties, neither of which really hurt them. This week, they committed six for 50 yards, and it felt like every one of them managed to impact the team. Add in Carlos Hyde’s fumble and Blaine Gabbert’s two interceptions, and it was simply unacceptable.
While I think this team is better than last year’s team, they have a lot of work to do for that to reflect in the record. The fumbles in particular are galling. They had fumble issues in the preseason, and they now have one in each of the first two games of the season. They managed to not let the Rams turn it into points last week, but this week it was an easy score for the Panthers.
The 49ers head north to Seattle next week in a game that will be just as, if not more difficult than this one. The Seahawks are currently in a tough one down in Los Angeles, but the Rams have played them plenty tough the last few years. When the 49ers head up to Seattle next week, a performance like we saw today would probably result in a blowout. I just don’t see the Seahawks making the same kinds of mistakes we saw from Carolina. The 49ers were in that game entirely because of four Panthers turnovers. The 49ers were dominating the turnover battle at one point. They finished with a 4/3 edge, but at one point were up 4/1, and were still trailing. That won’t fly up in Seattle. I’m glad the 49ers fought back for a stretch vs. Carolina, but this kind of work probably will not have nearly as “good” a result as we saw this week. Well, if you want to call it “good” in any stretch.