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5 takeaways: The 49ers flex their depth as they steamroll the Panthers in a 22-point win

Unfortunately, they’ll need to continue to do that moving forward.

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

The 49ers handled business out east, defeating the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 37-15. It was the third time this season that the 49ers won by double digits, making them one of only two teams in the NFL to accomplish that feat this season. Here are my five takeaways from this dominant win.

The 49ers flexed their depth

Much of the top-end talent on the 49ers is the same as in years past, but the biggest thing I tried to stress coming into this season was how stacked this roster was from top to bottom.

The 49ers entered this game already missing two team captains, Trent Williams and Arik Armstead, and that number doubled before the end of this one, with Jimmie Ward and Nick Bosa both being ruled out with injuries they sustained during this game.

That did not slow the 49ers down one bit in this game as they steamrolled their way to a 22-point road victory. Players like Hassan Ridgeway and Kevin Givens continue to be invaluable pieces on the interior of the defensive line, and rookie Drake Jackson filled in admirably with a sack of his own in place of Bosa following the latter’s departure.

Jeff Wilson Jr. continues to be an absolute stud in the ground game since taking over the starting duties following Elijah Mitchell’s injury. Jaylon Moore stepped in admirably after the 49ers lost their first and second-string left tackle heading into this game.

The 49ers are going to have to rely on that depth even further moving forward, with starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley feared to be lost for the season after suffering what is presumed to be a torn ACL late in the fourth quarter of the 49ers win over the Panthers.

Losing a player like Moseley is gut-wrenching, particularly in the midst of what has been a pro bowl caliber season to this point. However, if there is any solace in the aftermath of such a devastating loss, it’s the fact that the 49ers have the ability to slide Jason Verrett into that role once he is cleared for game action.

Health will be key no matter what, and the 49ers can’t bank on treading water all year without their stars, but what the depth players have done in the absence of a handful of their superstar players is something worth celebrating.

Jimmy Garoppolo delivers in the clutch

Failure to move the sticks on third down often decides the outcome of any given football game, and Garoppolo did his part to ensure that would not be a concern for the 49ers in this one. The 49ers converted 70% of the third downs that Garoppolo dropped back to pass in during this game; here were Garoppolo’s numbers on the money down in this game.


118 yards

13.1 yards per attempt

1 touchdown

0 interception

155.7 passer rating

Even the lone incompletion that Garoppolo had was impressive in its own right, standing tall against the blitz to deliver a ball deep down the left sideline that Brandon Aiyuk was unable to reel in.

The 49ers finished 7/12 on third down in this one, bumping their season average up to 41 percent and jumping from 21st to 11th league-wide as a result.

Sack city

The 49ers entered this game leading the league in sacks, and barring a miracle on Monday night. They will exit Week 5 still in command of the league lead with 21 on the season. They got to Panthers quarterbacks six times in this one, with seven different players contributing to that total.

What was arguably the most impressive was how that was divided, with linebackers and safeties accounting for four of the six sacks, giving a boost to a defensive line that has terrorized quarterbacks all season long.

Charles Omenihu continues to impress, generating pressure after pressure and recording a sack in each of the last two games. Omenihu is giving the 49ers' defense an invaluable weapon with his ability to wreak havoc on the interior while also being able to kick outside to the edge when needed. Truly one of the most underrated pieces on what has been the best defense in the NFL through five weeks.

Drake Jackson recorded another sack in Carolina, building on an impressive rookie season that might see an increased workload should Bosa be forced to miss any time with his groin injury. Jackson trails only Detroit’s Aidan Hutchinson in sacks among rookies this season, and it’s worth noting Hutchinson has recorded nearly 100 more pass rushing snaps than Jackson this season.

Talanoa Hufanga got in on the party as well, logging the first sack of his NFL career when he brought down Baker Mayfield in the second quarter.

49ers dominated the red zone

The 49ers' offense entered this game ranked 31st in the league in red zone efficiency, an area where they had struggled mightily to find any consistency early on this season. They responded by going a perfect 4-4 in their win over the Panthers, placing them back in the middle of the pack at a conversion rate of 57%.

The 49ers' defense continued their dominance in the red zone as well, allowing the Panthers to score a touchdown on just one of their three drives that got inside the 49ers' 20-yard line. San Francisco has only allowed 10 total red zone trips by opponents this season through five games, second in the NFL, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys, who have only allowed 9.

Jeff Wilson Jr. shines

I was going to include this earlier when discussing the contributions the 49ers have gotten from their depth pieces, but Wilson Jr. has been so good over the last few weeks I decided that he deserves an entire takeaway devoted to him and him alone.

Wilson Jr. ran the ball 17 times for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers, good for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. Wilson Jr. had four runs of 10 + yards, including 75 yards before contact in Carolina, a testament to his burst and exceptional vision to sniff out running lanes in crowded areas of the field.

This performance built on an already impressive string of games that Wilson Jr. has put together since taking over the reins as the starting running back with Elijah Mitchell sidelined due to injury.

Since Week 2, when Wilson Jr. became the full-time starting running back, he has carried the ball an average of 16 times per game at a clip of 5.43 yards per carry. He has been the heart and soul of a 49ers ground attack that appears to have found its identity after some struggles early on.