Panther Paw Prints: Saturday Edition

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some Panther related articles from around the web.

We start with a nice post by Charles Edwards with the Bleacher Report on the old rivalry between the Panthers and 49ers, something only us old timers would remember.

Carolina Panthers vs. San Francisco 49ers Could Be a Rivalry Renewed | Bleacher Report
The date was November 5, 1995. The expansion Carolina Panthers were in San Francisco meeting the defending champion, the 49ers, for the first time ever. At first glance, the game looked to be a rout in favor of San Francisco. However, those Panthers weren’t your typical expansion team, and when the final whistle sounded, Carolina had pulled off an incredible and improbable upset. Thus, a rivalry was born.

It's hard to believe now that two teams so far apart were fierce rivals, if only for a short time.

I'm one Panther fan that hopes Ted Ginn has a good day against his old team, though it would seem he didn't burn any bridges on his way out.

Carolina Panthers have allowed Ted Ginn Jr. to begin again | Carolina Panthers | Rock Hill Herald Online

"I had a good relationship with Ted. I liked him a lot," 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "We were pretty good friends, and the success he’s been having doesn’t surprise me or I think anyone else here. He’s a good receiver." "He’s a very fast man," Harbaugh said of Ginn, who missed two to three games in each of his three seasons with San Francisco. "He’s stayed healthy and he’s played well." Rivera said he can tell this week means a lot to Ginn, who has been telling teammates what to expect from the 49ers. "I’m going to enjoy it. I hope that we get a win," Ginn said. "I don’t care if I don’t score or do nothing, as long as we come out with a win that’d be great for me."

I'm with you Teddy but I'm leaning more towards you grabbing about 6 balls for a buck twenty and 2 TDs! More on Ginn:

Panthers putting Ted Ginn to good use - SFGate
After a few injuries in training camp, however, Ginn, by default, became Carolina's No. 3 wide receiver. And Rivera became a believer. "A couple guys get injured and the next thing you know, he's running with the (first-string offense) as our No. 3 and making plays," Rivera said. "You open your eyes and are saying 'Wow.' You're kind of saying, 'Where has all this been during his career?' "

He just has to reel in those balls when they come his way is all.

Big news on the 49ers front, they got their Smith back:

Aldon Smith of San Francisco 49ers expected to play - ESPN

"I'm sure he will play some," San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday. "Not sure how much." Fangio said Smith was predictably looked a bit rusty in practice this week, but he attributed that to being away from the game for six weeks. Fangio said he expects Smith to knock off the rust quickly.

Hopefully his is rusty but I'm not banking on that.

Seems Jim Harbaugh still laments missing out on Kuechly in college:

Panthers’ Luke Kuechly passed on Jim Harbaugh, Stanford | CharlotteObserver.com
"He’s intense," Kuechly said. "That’s one thing. He’s a good guy, he’s passionate about football and he’s intense. I was around him quite a bit. I took a couple of visits out to Stanford, he was at my house. He was an intense guy."

Funny that the word he uses is 'intense'. No argument there. Here's another one with Harbaugh talking about Kuechly:

Luke Kuechly is a sad reminder for Jim Harbaugh - ESPN
"You could see that he’s a great player and somebody that has got to be blocked or he’ll make every tackle," Harbaugh said. "Big challenge for us this week."

I'm liking our chances of our D shutting down their offense. Continuing with Harbaugh can you believe he and Smitty were once teammates? Yup, and Harbaugh has good memories from that season:

Panthers WR Steve Smith still getting 49ers Jim Harbaugh's attention - ESPN

"I've got a lot of memories, but that was definitely the vivid one that I talk about most and kind of retell; the story of Steve, his first year at Carolina," said Harbaugh, energy in his voice returning. "I would just go back and throw it to Steve. I had so much fun in those practices throwing to him because he was so good. He would just catch everything. Smith "His catch radius was everywhere. I could just hit the seven-step and just let it fly in his direction. It was a great feeling to have the ball come off my finger and see it going in his direction, and then he would make some kind of spectacular catch. It was real enjoyment."

Now on the other side of the line, I'm hopeful the Panthers o-line gels quickly with its new RG Nate Chandler.

Injury update: Panthers defensive on O-line - Carolina Panthers Blog - ESPN

Former defensive lineman Nate Chandler is slated as the starter at right guard with Chris Scott (knee) day-to-day and backup Jeff Byers out for the rest of the season after undergoing Lisfranc surgery on Monday. On Wednesday, the Panthers also moved backup nose tackle Sione Fua to guard to help with depth. Coach Ron Rivera said the team felt comfortable making that move with tackle Dwan Edwards fully recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out five games.

Certainly Fua is a long way from getting on the field on that side of the ball, who is now #72 by the way. I would hope newly signed Geoff Hangartner would see the field long before Fua:

Geoff Hangartner, you're fired! You're hired! - ESPN

"Football is a cutthroat business,'' said Hangartner, affectionately known as "Piggy'' in the locker room. "I was disappointed when I was cut, but it's always a reality. "I've been watching all the games and rooting for the guys. I had played here long enough where it wasn't going to sour my experience with the Panthers.'' "If we had some guy come in today that we were going to count on and none of us knew and didn’t know the offense, there would be a stress level," left tackle Jordan Gross said. "But when it’s [Hangartner], he’s the smartest football player that I’ve ever played with on the O-line. "He could teach us the offense probably right now."

I'm thinking the playbook is a little different since Piggy was last in the huddle.

Remember all those preseason article on the best young QB and Newton was no where to be seen? Well they aren;t saying that anymore:

Newton or Kaepernick? Not easy anymore - Carolina Panthers Blog - ESPN
"I don't want to compare myself to Kaepernick,'' Newton said. "He's an explosive player, don't get me wrong. But he does things that I can't do and I try to simulate some things that he does. I'm pretty sure our games are somewhat different in a lot of aspects.'' But they're alike in many. "Yes, we have similarities,'' Kaepernick. "We’re both big, both fast, both can throw the ball well, have the opportunity to make plays for our offense."

When the season is said and done I think you will see Newton mentioned as one of the top 2 or 3 young QBs in the league, just wait and see.

Here's one of the many mid-season reports out there:

Midseason Report: Carolina Panthers - NFC South Blog - ESPN

Secondary This was supposed to be the weakness of the defense -- and the entire team. A unit that gave up a league-worst 66.8 completion percentage a year ago is giving up 67.1 percent this year. But it's not allowing the big plays and touchdowns of late.

Most of them were positive and simply split hairs here and there between As and Bs. Some gave the o-line a C which is a little harsh given they have played better the past few weeks.

From the news of the weird, Rivera sought counsel from both John Madden and Bill Cowher

Give Panthers coach Ron Rivera credit for seeking out John Madden - ESPN
"Oh, yeah,'' Rivera said with a laugh. "He can't help himself.'' One thing stood out more than anything during the critique. "He was a little bit concerned about us giving the ball a little bit too much to the quarterback,'' Rivera said. "I took every word he said.''

Hence we've seen Newton get the ball less. Maybe it's RG3 Madden needs to talk to next ;)

Now advice from Cowher:

"One of the things [Cowher] told me was, 'Ron, with the way you finished [2012 with four straight wins], stick with it. It's going to turn. Trust me. Don't change who you are in terms of your principles and what you believe,''' Rivera said. "The insight that you learn from these people is tremendous. They all came around to say one thing: be true to who you are. So I've tried to do that. I am a better coach.''

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Panther Paw Prints!

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