Panthers at 49ers – Week 1
Finally, football is BACK.
The Panthers went back to Levi Stadium for the first time since the 2015 Super Bowl (we all know what happened there), and this time they were able to leave with a W. Was it a pretty game? Nope. But that should be encouraging, being the first game of the season, and it’s easy to point out where the team can improve.
The biggest question leading up to the season was how healthy is Cam? Recovering from shoulder surgery just 6 months ago, is he REALLY ready? He only threw two passes the entire preseason. It was obvious Cam’s timing isn’t completely back, and he’s shaking off some rust but that should be expected. Yes, he did have some inaccurate throws, he rushed a few passes, but we got to see a few glimpses of the 2015
MVP, like the 40 yard pass to Russell Shepard for the first TD of the game. Even on the interception he bombed it 60 yards downfield. Ultimately, Cam went 14-25 for 171 yards and threw two TD’s and one INT. His shoulder was fine. The more Cam can play, the better he can get his timing back, and add more and more completions each game.
We can’t blame Cam’s rustiness for everything that went wrong offensively, the offensive line did a great job holding off the pass rush giving Cam plenty of time to throw. The receivers have to do a better job of getting open so Cam can actually throw to them. Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey were pretty even for the day in the run game, but think of all the offensive weapons Cam has. Panthers should
continue to use McCaffrey as a decoy so the rest of our offensive targets can get open (think Atlanta Falcons here). I love Greg Olsen, but our TE can’t be the number one receiving threat we have, especially when we have giant WRs in Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess.
The defense was stellar, what a difference it makes having a healthy and excited Luke Kuechly back. It’s obvious the rest of the defense feeds off of that too, especially when he missed the final six games last season due to a concussion. You could not have asked for more from the line, causing pressure with pass rush and recording four sacks. If they keep playing like that for the rest of the season, I think they can be one of the top defenses in the NFL. 3 points allowed is the fewest EVAR for the Thers in a season opener.
All in all, was it an explosive game? No, and I think we’re still looking for that. I think everyone is excited to see what McCaffrey will do at the first home game of the season (RUN CMC!), and we can FINALLY welcome home Julius Peppers. #KeepPounding ‘Thers – can only go up from here!
Also, shout out to the team managers holding up the sun shades on the sidelines throughout the game Sunday – they’re the real MVP’s here!
-Taylor C, Charlotte Correspondent