So I've selected two defensive plays, one passing play and a punt return.
Starting with the third snap of the game 49er QB Colin Kaepernick attempts to hit WR Anquan Boldin down the right seam:
Captain makes a really nice break on the ball but just can't finish the play. The Panthers held Boldin to 23 yards on 3 catches for the game.
With 2:12 left in the 2nd quarter the Panthers were driving deep into 49er territory when Newton makes an ill-advised pass over the middle to TE Greg Olsen:
When it's going good it's just going good. You take it and don't ask questions. Hat tip to Greg Olsen for maintaining his focus on the ball. On the ensuing play RB DeAngelo Willimas scores from 27 yards out to get the Panthers on the board.
With 1:55 left in the 3rd quarter and the 49ers nursing a 9-7 lead the 49ers had driven into Panthers territory on the heels of Graham Gano's first missed FG of the season. On 2nd and 1 at the Panther 39 yard line 49er RB Kendall Hunter takes the snap intent on converting the first down. Panther LB Thomas Davis had other plans:
I felt that hit was the key turning point of the game because of the let down from the missed FG. Add in the fact the 49ers were driving and only about 10 yards from adding to their lead. As it turned out that was the last time the 49er offense saw the Panther side of the field.
At the 13:47 mark in the 4th quarter the Panthers defense forced yet another 49er punt. PR Ted Ginn had just returned from the locker room getting treatment for cramps when he lined up to receive the punt. Ginn had already ripped off punt returns of 19 and 21 yards so certainly they wouldn't let him burn them a third time right?
Talk about threading the needle on a return, Ginn takes it right up the gut, juking left, right, left, right. Usually when you see a PR average 21 yards on 3 returns it's because he broke one long one and had 2 shorts ones. Not in Ginns case though. He added a 25 yard return to the 19 and 21 yarders.
If I was Gettleman I would sign Ginn to a three year deal right now. I realize Ginn has yet to take one to the House but you know it's only a matter of time. I'm trying to think if we've had anyone returning punts comparable to Ginn in the history of the franchise? Steve Smith is an obvious thought but he only returned punts for a few seasons seasons. Rod 'He Hate Me' Smart was a good kick returner but he didn't return punts.
So I decided to look it up. Pro Football Reference has ranked the best returners in Panthers history. At the top is Mrk Jones from the 2008 season with a an 11.4 ypr average on 39 returns. You'll see they already have Ginn at #10 in Panther history with his current 11.0 yard per return average. Steve Smith averaged 9.3 ypr on 178 returns. So do you think we need to keep Ted Ginn around?
I hope you've enjoyed this batch of GIFs.