After surviving cold Lambeau Field with a 23-20 victory the San Francisco 49ers next journey is to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Carolina Panthers. The Niners are hoping to repay the Panthers for a 10-9 loss early in the season. This game was by far the Niners worst game of the season, and the Panthers had a lot to do with it.
In that game the Panthers front seven, led by Greg Hardy and Luke Kuechly, put 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick under extreme pressure the whole game and held him to just 91 yards passing. This game was without star receiver Michael Crabtree and All Pro Tight End Vernon Davis left the game with an injury after the first quarter, but it was easy to see in that game that the Panthers defense had their way with the Niners offense.
This game shapes up to be played in a similar fashion; probably in the ball park of 17-14 or something of that nature. Both defenses will control the game with both offenses struggling to move the ball. The game will come down to turnovers and which offense or specifically which quarterback makes the key plays in the fourth quarter to put his team in position to win.
The Niners will win if the defense does what they normally do, which is play at an elite level and if Kaepernick makes plays with his arm from the pocket. The Green Bay Packers allowed Kaepernick to get outside the pocket last weekend, which is very deadly for any team especially one with a poor defense like Green Bay. However, the Panthers are a much different defense and will keep Kaepernick contained and force him to make throws from the pocket. If he does this effectively then the Niners will win, but if he has a similar game to the first time these teams played the Niners will lose.
Last week’s game in Green Bay showed that the Niners are a good team, but still have work to do in order to get to the Super Bowl, which is their ultimate goal. The Niners weren’t as effective on offense as they could have been against a bad Green Bay defense. The running game continued to be a concern as Frank Gore was ineffective again this past weekend. The Niners running game will need to come back in the form of Gore and Kendall Hunter because Kaepernick won’t be allowed to run for almost 100 yards against defenses like Carolina and then Seattle if the Niners beat Carolina this weekend.
The Niners are ready for the Panthers as Kaepernick stated after the Green Bay victory, “ We owe them” when asked about the prospect of facing the Panthers this weekend. That’s the attitude that most of the players are taking as they want pay back from what happened last time these teams played.
Whether or not the Niners will get their payback will be known on Sunday morning when these teams face off in what should be a very physical game, featuring two tough defenses, physical offensive lines and two young quarterbacks. What’s not to like about this game.