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49ers-Panthers final score: Reuben Foster, Brian Hoyer, & 5 things we learned in an ugly loss

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The 49ers have a lot of work to do following an ugly season-opening loss.

Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers got the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch era off to an inauspicious beginning, losing to the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 23-3. There has been optimism this offseason, but expectations are still relatively low for this season, and that showed on Sunday.

The most notable news from the game was the loss of linebacker Reuben Foster to a leg injury. After a strong start in the first quarter, Foster went down grabbing his ankle. He was taken off on a cart, and the worst was feared. He eventually did walk back to the sideline, but had a notable limp. The 49ers taped up his ankle, but he did not return to the game. The upside to this is he was walking around without crutches. We’ll see if it’s an ankle sprain, and if it is, whether it is low or high.

The 49ers offense struggled in a big way on Sunday. We saw glimpses on a play here or a play there, but for the most part, the offense could not get most of the day. They had one drive go double digit plays, failed to convert on three of their four attempts at fourth down conversions, and had a fumble and interception.

Brian Hoyer had a less than stellar day, completing 24 of 35 passes for 193 yards and one interception. The interception was an awful throw where he just did not see Luke Kuechly. There were some times it seemed like he was holding onto the ball too long, but more often than not, Zane Beadles was getting beat by a pass rusher. Hoyer is a low ceiling quarterback, and a porous offensive line also lowers his floor.

5 things we learned

1. Laken Tomlinson needs to get up to speed in a hurry. The guard position in general is a mess, but Zane Beadles in particular is a turnstile right now.

2. The 49ers can’t afford to lose Reuben Foster for an extended period of time. NaVorro Bowman is not the linebacker he once was, and they need Foster out there in the nickel and dime packages.

3. Penalties remain a problem. We saw some issues with it in the preseason, and this group has some work to do to get on the same page.

4. Carlos Hyde is going to be busy in this offense. He only had nine carries, but he matched his career high with six receptions. He averaged five yards per carry on his rushes, but the 49ers just did not give him enough work. We’ll see plenty of him though this season.

5. Somehow the Los Angeles Rams are in first place in the NFC West. It’s only one game and the Indianapolis Colts sent out Scott Tolzien, but that was impressive.