clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

49ers vs. Panthers: Talking Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, Panthers defense with Cat Scratch Reader

New, comments

The folks at Cat Scratch Reader answered five questions we have heading into Sunday’s season opener.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

We’re a little over 24 hours away from the San Francisco 49ers kicking off the 2017 season against the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers are a 5.5 point underdog in this game, and most predictions have Carolina taking this one. I recently took a few minutes to chat with Bradley Smith over at Cat Scratch Reader to get some of his thoughts on the Panthers, and how this matchup might shake out. You can check out my answers to his five questions here.

Niners Nation: What do you expect out of Cam Newton after limited preseason snaps following offseason shoulder surgery?

Cat Scratch Reader: I think Cam will take a few games to shake off the rust, and will probably be around 80 percent efficiency during that time. However, he's still Cam so as long as his shoulder is okay the Panthers will have a good chance to win. The Panthers will need to have a strong running game to take some of the pressure off Cam until he's back to 100 percent.

NN: How do you see the Panthers utilizing Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel in their offense?

CSR: Christian McCaffrey will be lined up anywhere the Panthers can put him, similar to how the Chiefs utilize Tyreek Hill. He will line up at running back primarily, but he'll also split out wide and even take "WildCaff" snaps. The Panthers will also use him as the primary punt returner to maximize opportunities to get him out in space. Curtis Samuel will primarily be used as a wide receiver, but the Panthers could also try to line him up in the backfield like Ohio State did.

NN: On defense, what is the biggest strength and what is the biggest weakness?

CSR: The biggest strength is the front seven. Our pass rush is potentially the best we've had in the last five years, and we still have Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis at linebacker. The biggest weakness is depth in the secondary. We have decent starters but we're one injury to Kurt Coleman away from being in really bad shape at safety.

NN: Who is the under-the-radar player for 49ers fans to watch?

CSR: Linebacker David Mayo. It's nearly impossible to get on the field at middle linebacker when you're behind Luke Kuechly on the depth chart, but Mayo makes an impact on special teams and any time he steps into the defensive lineup. He had a great preseason and Panthers fans are excited about his potential.

NN: What's your final score prediction for the game?

CSR: Panthers 27 - 49ers 10. I think the Panthers will end the 49ers' streak of six straight season opener wins.