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Panthers at 49ers Final Score: Defense shines as Panthers win 23-3

The Panthers’ defense came up big as Carolina defeats San Francisco 23-3.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers win!!! 1-0 to start the season!


  • The defense had an extremely good showing. The 49ers came out witha quick twitch passing game plan (something the team usually struggles with) yet the Panthers allowed 3 points. Top to bottom, great performance.
  • Going to single out the pass rush here too, The Panthers had four sacks and several turnovers as a result of the pass rush. Julius Peppers was exceptionally impressive, with .5 sacks but a key hit on 3rd down to force a punt.
  • The Panthers made a concerted effort to get the ball into Christian McCaffery’s hands. 18 touches on offense, 85 total yards. It isn’t often a non-QB comes in as a centerpiece in their first year, but that appears to be the case here.
  • Ted Ginn who? Russell Shepard’s touchdown set the tone and it appears he is ready to step up as the deep speed threat. Guys got moves.
  • Cam Newton didn’t look in sync early on but that appeared to start getting better as the game wore on. This is to be expected with a QB who threw two passes in preseason games and spent most of the season in rehab mode with his shoulder.
  • Despite all the #kickerdrama, Gano made every field goal when tasked. Michael Palardy’s punts were field flippers as well.
  • Big game by the 4th down defense. The 9ers went for it several times and only converted once.

Not going to nit pick too much, week one tends to be ugly for most teams and the Panthers dominated this game. Offense needs to get on the same page at some points, but the team as a whole looked good in its first action.


The Panthers started off the game trading punts with the 49ers, until Wes Horton forced a fumble that placed the offense on the 49ers 42 yard line. The Panthers ended up scoring with a deep pass to Russell Shepard, where he busted out a SICK spin move to break the only tackle between him and the goal line.

They traded punts again but the defense followed up with a great series, as the 9ers netted -11 yards and the defense added another sack by Star Lotulelei and Julius Peppers. The offense couldn’t capitalize, as Cam threw a duck up to Kelvin Benjamin that was intercepted by Jaquiski Tartt. The Panthers held on 4th down at mid field with a sack by Thomas Davis, and the offense took the next drive for a field goal by Graham Gano. The 49ers offense once again tried to go for it on 4th down on the following drive, only for Kyle Juszczyk to get stuffed. Once again, field goal drive for the offense to end the half after a beautiful deep completion to Kelvin Benjamin.

The defense continued its dominance with an interception by Luke Kuechly, who returned the ball 23 yards. The offense scored with a throw by Cam Newton to Jonathan Stewart near the goal line. The 9ers punted and the teams traded field goals while Cam Newton still worked on getting back to his old throwing form. Then, Christian McCaffery fumbled to give the 9ers the ball on the Panthers 31. The defense ONCE AGAIN held up on 4th down with a sack by Michael Adams and then a nice play by the defense as a whole to keep Carlos Hyde out of the end zone. The offense held onto the ball to end the game.

Stay tuned for coverage next week as the Panthers play the Bills for their home opener!