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Panthers Made Light Work Of 49ers In Week 1 Matchup

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Panthers Made Light Work Of 49ers

The first week of the NFL’s regular season was hardly what one would call “good football”. Regardless, the Panthers made light work of the 49ers with a 23-3 victory.

On a day that included Andy Dalton turning the ball over five times, it’s hard to criticize anything Cam Newton did. Sunday was Cam’s return to the field after an offseason full of questions. While it resulted in a win, Cam’s return was far from spectacular.

Cam’s Return

Honestly speaking, it was hard to see any difference in Cam’s play from any other year. He used his legs well and he made some good throws. However, he also made some bad ones. For instance, one of his better passes was a 23-yard strike to Greg Olsen in the middle of the field. His worst, on the other hand, was a pass to a wide-open Ed Dickson in the end zone during the first half.

Cam finished the day going 14 for 25 for 171 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. His lone interception came in the first half as he tried to force a deep ball to Kelvin Benjamin. As a result, safety Jaquiski Tartt made a remarkable one-handed pick to give the Niners the ball back. If the Panthers have any Super Bowl hopes, they need Mr. Consistent at quarterback.

McCaffrey’s Debut

Cam wasn’t the only Panther with an up and down performance Sunday. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey showed he’s not exempt from the learning curve that all rookies go through. Ultimately, he finished the game with 13 carries for 47 yards as well as five catches for 38 yards and a lost fumble.

The good news is it’s clear the Panthers trust him as they had him in almost every package from the beginning. Cam’s first pass of the game went to McCaffrey underneath as well. For this reason, Christian McCaffrey will be a huge part of this offense and one can only expect him to get better each week he plays.

Where’s Kelvin Benjamin

Kelvin Benjamin was a complete ghost in Sunday’s game. As a matter of fact, he finished with only one catch for 25 yards on five targets. Benjamin struggled to get any separation and that’s not going to help a quarterback dealing with accuracy issues. Furthermore, Carolina can’t afford for their best receiver to be mediocre. Presently, this offense needs all hands on deck.

Panthers Defense Was Their Bright Spot

The bright spot for this team on Sunday was clearly the defense. On a day where the defense recorded four sacks and two turnovers, it’s easy to see that this defense is the engine of the team. The Panthers defense was fast and physical giving the lowly Niners offense no hope.

Brian Hoyer was under constant pressure Sunday and it seemed like he couldn’t do anything right. The Niners are a bad team so it’s hard to figure out how much of this was the Panthers defense. Given Carolina’s reputation, it’s not hard to give them most of the credit. That being said, this secondary is still unproven. The Panthers made light work of the 49ers thanks to the defense.

Stars of the Game

Jonathan Stewart and Thomas Davis were the stars of Sunday’s game. Stewart finished with 18 carries for 65 yards and a 9-yard touchdown reception. In addition, he showed great explosiveness all game as he finished runs falling forward. He and McCaffrey will be great compliments to each other.

Thomas Davis was a man possessed. He finished with seven tackles and a sack. In fact, it seems as if the older he gets, the bigger the problem he is for opposing offenses. Therefore, with Davis and Luke Kuechly controlling the defense, every offense will be in for a long day.

Next Up…

The Panthers will host the Buffalo Bills for their home opener.