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5 winners and 1 loser from 49ers' 37-15 rout of Panthers

Plenty of positives from Sunday

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

The 49ers were only up seven points late in the second quarter until Emmanuel Moseley returned a Baker Mayfield interception 41 yards for a touchdown, and the 49ers didn’t look back from there.

San Francisco went into Carolina and looked pretty convincing en route to a 37-15 win over the former division rivals. The 49ers' offense seemed to start clicking in the second half, and the defense was in control for most of the game.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the 49ers won in every facet of the game. Here are the five winners and the lone loser from Sunday’s win:

Winner: CB Mooney Ward

Sunday easily marked Ward’s best performance with the 49ers since signing this past April. Ward was targeted six times, allowing just one reception for 32 yards, a deep pass to Robbie Anderson in the second quarter, with four pass breakups and four tight windows, per NFL Next Gen Stats.

His best play of the day came late in the third quarter when Anderson got both of his hands on a Mayfield pass in the endzone, but Ward was able to get his hand in to force the incomplete pass, with the drive ending in a field goal.

Winner: Third down offense

Sunday was a step in the right direction for the offense as they hadn’t been particularly great on third downs early in the season, ranking 21st, entering Sunday converting at a 37 percent clip.

The 49ers converted on seven of their 12 third downs and converted at least one third down on four of their five scoring drives (albeit their last scoring drive started at the Carolina 3-yard-line). Jimmy Garoppolo came up big on third downs completing eight of nine passes for 118 yards and a touchdown with the biggest coming on a 30-yard completion by Tevin Coleman late in the first quarter that led to a field goal. Garoppolo spread the ball around well on third downs as well, completing a pass to six different 49ers pass catchers.

Winner: Third down defense

For as good as the offense was on third downs, the defense was just as good, if not better, holding the Panthers on third downs. Carolina finished Sunday converting three of their 15 third downs, with the defense allowing only two third down conversions in the second half on eight Panther attempts. With Carolina relying heavily on Christian McCaffrey on third downs, with seven touches on the 15 attempts, linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner combined for six of their combined 20 tackles, with Warner collecting a sack to boot.

Winner: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Was Sunday one of Jimmy Garoppolo’s best performances we’ve seen from him? No, probably not, but Garoppolo was definitely good, finishing the game with 253 passing yards, two touchdowns, and, most importantly, no turnovers. Garoppolo did have one near mistake, an almost interception in the first quarter when he threw a pass to Deebo Samuel in double coverage but was dropped by Juston Burris. If the 49ers can get the version of Jimmy Garoppolo they saw Sunday, especially with success on third downs as mentioned above, the 49ers should win more games than they don’t.

Loser: Special teams

Not everything was perfect for the 49ers in Carolina as the special teams seemed to revert back to their 2021 ways for what hopes to be just this week. It started with a blocked 43-yard field goal attempt from Robbie Gould in the second quarter when the score was still 10-7. Panthers return man Raheem Blackshear then opened the second half with back-to-back returns out to midfield leading to 10 of Carolina’s 15 points. To make things even worse, Robbie Gould was injured on the second return after tackling Blackshear to prevent the touchdown.

Winner: 49ers running backs

The 49ers as a team averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 29 attempts, with Jeff Wilson leading the way with 120 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts. Wilson’s 120 rushing yards marked the first time a 49er running back has eclipsed the 100-yard mark since Wilson himself did so against the Falcons in Week 15 last season. Not to be outdone, Tevin Coleman played the role of a dual-threat running back well on Sunday with a rushing touchdown and three receptions for 44 yards with a receiving touchdown as well. His first-quarter touchdown was his first touchdown since 2019 during his first stint with the 49ers.