1-0 and the fans are rejoicing. Sort of. Guardedly optimistic? Depends on who you talk to. To me, the team looks a lot more coherent and solid that last year’s version. The lines look a lot better as well. and, speaking of last year, this season started just like last year. A strong Monday night victory against a supposed up-and-coming team followed by an East Coast trip through 3 time zones against a very strong team on a short week and the early game to boot. Hopefully the outcome of this game will be a little better than last year’s debacle at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their 48-18 thrashing.
This time around we only get the defending NFC champs, the Carolina Panthers. They of course were a field goal away from beating their Super Bowl conquerors, the Denver Broncos. So, how does this work out for us? Well, it is very hard to say. Our offense looks fairly similar to the one trotted out by the Broncos. Short passes, misdirection runs, runs from 3 WR sets, and some read-option. Gabbert had a fair-to-middling game, one where he missed wide open guys, but he also kept drives alive with his legs, and by buying time on the run. Still and all 22-35 for 170 and 1 TD isn’t going to stop any clocks, or even get the fantasy crowd excited, but a decent enough game. Will that fly tomorrow? I don’t think so. He left too many passes in the danger zone and should have been picked off a couple times, and missed an easy TD early on. The run game, namely Carlos Hyde needs to have a big game for this to work. I like the idea of getting a lot of WRs in the patterns to unload the box.
Amazingly, the 49ers last week were 4-4 in the red zone against what was supposed to be a top-tier defense. But they pretty much laid down by the end of the 3rd quarter, and their offense was flat to say the least. Carolina? Well, Denver has the blueprint for beating Carolina down pat. Pressure pressure pressure. Get people in his grille and make him rush his throws. Contain is also important, but the biggest thing is pressure. The DBs did well last week, and in the preseason. They again will be key to slowing down the Carolina offense. Keep the ball in Newton’s hands give the pas rush a better shot of getting to him.
Still and all, I think we lose, but we play well in the cause. 24-20 Panthers.