Only two games separate the first seeded 49ers and the seventh-seeded Panthers in the NFC playoff picture, so this game has more significance than we’re leading on, even if it’s Week 8. Carolina has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball to win this game. The question is, will Kyle Allen fumble the game away. I think Dee Ford has a strip-sack that is the difference in a game where Emmanuel Sanders scores a touchdown, and we sing his praises all week. I do think the Panthers have success moving the ball, but field goals won’t get it done Sunday. 24-20, 49ers.
The 49ers face their toughest test yet: a backup quarterback and an offense that lives and dies by their running back. That said, the game is in San Francisco, and the 49ers are on a mission. While the Panthers will be beneficiaries of another dumb throw by Jimmy Garoppolo and a fumble, I’ll tell you who will feast: the 49ers defense, Matt Breida/Tevin Coleman, and Emmanuel Sanders will be more involved than I think we all expect.
It might be ugly in some points, but I’m picking the 49ers to get up in the third quarter and the Panthers to be lagging behind for the rest of the game besides a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
I’m not going to lie; this is a tough matchup for the Niners, maybe their toughest on the year. The Panthers D has excelled at rushing the passer in 2019 with a 10.2 sack percentage, second only to the 49ers who are at 10.8 on the year. It’s safe to say that both QB’s will be spending a fair amount of time under duress, which should make it difficult for their respective teams to put points on the board. I expect Panthers rookie QB Kyle Allen to struggle to overcome the pressure, but Christian McCaffrey will still find a way to put up a TD or two. On the Niners side of the ball, Jimmy G’s quick release and Shanahan’s play-calling should get them into the red zone a handful of times, netting a couple of TD’s and a couple of Robbie Gould field goals, which should be just enough to put them over the top of this hard-fought defensive struggle in front of a raucous home crowd.
49ers 20, Panthers 17
Joe the Wizard
I think the 49ers could lose this one. I think this might be the game that best shows the flaws in the 49ers offensive line. Not having Staley, McGlinchey, and Juszczyk is a big deal. We can blame our wide receivers for not showing up, but Garoppolo very seldom has the time to find the open man or throw down the field. It is not just a wide receiver problem, and it is the whole offense’s problem.
On the other hand, our defensive line is everything it was advertised to be and more. I also think our inside linebackers are doing a much better job than their PFF grades would indicate. This game could be scoreless going into overtime. Hmmm??
If the 49ers defense can force Kyle Allen into making a couple of mistakes and Robbie Gould can make a couple of field goals, we just might pull it out.
13 – 10 49ers
This game has the makings of a 49ers loss. The trend has been heading that way since losing fullback Kyle Juszczyk as the offense has looked stale and uninspiring. And Carolina has the third-best defense in the league per Football Outsiders DVOA metric. The Panthers figure to make Christian McCaffrey the centerpiece of their offense, and the 49ers have not faced an athletic player like McCaffrey all season, which could be trouble if they find ways to get him the ball in space.
On the other hand, life should be pretty rough for Kyle Allen, as Cam Newton is out again. Allen has eight fumbles, and that’s not being talked about enough. Still, while the defense will likely do their job, it seems as though the offense will be limited in this one, even with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders.