Plays to Love, Plays to Hate looks at the most significant plays in swinging momentum and impacting the eventual outcome of the game. There is always plenty to hate about NFL officiating, so we will only focus on the plays on the field, not the refs.
Three plays to love
1st Quarter 7:03 – Panthers 0, 49ers 7. 49ers ball 1st-and-10 at SF 38
The Situation: The 49ers took the game’s first possession on a long drive for a touchdown. The Panthers went three-and-out on their first series. San Francisco got the ball for the second time and looked to add to their early lead.
The Play: Luke Kuechly undercut a George Kittle route and came up with a beautiful interception. The pick gave the Panthers offense the ball at the San Francisco 41 and led to a field goal to cut the early deficit to 7-3.
3rd Quarter 13:32 – Panthers 3, 49ers 27. Panthers punting from CAR 42
The Situation: Carolina was awful in the first half on both sides of the ball and trailed 27-3 at halftime. The Panthers got the ball to begin the third quarter but were once again forced to punt.
The Play: Punter Michael Palardy bounced a punt out of bounds at the San Francisco two yard line. Two plays later, Bruce Irvin sacked Jimmy Garoppolo in the end zone for a safety. While Irvin’s safety gets celebrated, let’s give props to Palardy for pinning the 49ers to set up the sack. Carolina now trailed 27-5.
3rd Quarter 11:24 – Panthers 5, 49ers 27. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at SF 40
The Situation: Following the safety, the Panthers took possession at the Carolina 49 yard line after a good return. The Panthers offense had struggled all day (managing just three points) and absolutely needed a touchdown on this drive.
The Play: Christian McCaffrey took a handoff left and got terrific blocks from Greg Olsen and DJ Moore. CMC turned the corner and weaved his way into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown. After a successful 2-point conversion, the Panthers went from getting blown out 27-3 at the half to being down just two scores at 27-13. Alas, they sucked for the rest of the game.
Three plays to hate
2nd Quarter 12:37 – Panthers 3, 49ers 21. Panthers ball 1st-and-10 at SF 47
The Situation: Carolina was down 21-3 early in the second quarter and the offense led by Kyle Allen was getting annihilated. Carolina needed a big play to spark a comeback.
The Play: Christian McCaffrey found a hole and bolted 43 yards down to the San Francisco four yard line. This play seemed to be exactly what the struggling offense needed but it was wiped out by a completely unnecessary holding penalty on Trai Turner. Instead of 1st-and-Goal from the four yard line and a touchdown in sight, the Panthers ended up punting on 4th-and-22 from their own 41.
2nd Quarter 2:28 – Panthers 3, 49ers 21. 49ers ball 3rd-and-4 at SF 43
The Situation: Carolina’s defense needed a big stop with time running out in the first half. They forced the 49ers into a 3rd-and-4 and a stop here would force a punt and hopefully give Carolina’s offense a shot at points before the half.
The Play: On 3rd-and-4 the Panthers went with zone coverage and allowed Emmanuel Sanders to sit down in a wide open spot in front of Shaq Thompson. Garoppolo hit Sanders for an easy first down. On the very next play from scrimmage, Tevin Coleman ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run and a 27-3 49ers lead.
3rd Quarter 7:59 – Panthers 13, 49ers 27. 49ers ball 3rd-and-6 at CAR 28
The Situation: The Panthers had improbably cut the 49ers lead to two touchdowns at 27-13. Carolina had forced San Francisco into a 3rd-and-6 and a stop here would force a 45-yard field goal attempt on a very, very windy day.
The Play: Once again the Panthers defense gave up a frustratingly easy third down conversion. This time Carolina blitzed, it was picked up, and Deebo Samuel caught a wide-open pass for a first down. On the very next play Samuel scored on a 20-yard touchdown and a 34-13 49ers lead. Game. Over.
Closing it out and summing it up
This game was just flat out embarrassing. Let’s pump the brakes on Carolina having an “elite” defense for now. For as bad as the Kyle Allen-led offense was, the defense was even worse. It was an absolutely gutless, pathetic defensive effort. Even basic misdirections from the 49ers offense left Carolina’s defensive players more confused than Drake trying to figure out a David Blaine magic trick. Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert (he’s an NFL player?) combined for 20 carries and 165 yards and four touchdowns. What a shameful defensive performance.
As expected, Kyle Allen struggled against one of the league’s most dominant defenses. He held the ball too long, had poor pocket awareness, made bad reads, and tossed a handful of simply awful passes. Not helping matters, the Panthers receivers rarely seemed open and the offensive line was little more than a gentle speed bump for Nick Bosa and company. As I’ve said many, many times: A healthy Cam Newton is superior to Kyle Allen by multiple degrees, but I think even a healthy Cam Newton would’ve taken a pounding in this one. It was an awful collective effort from the offense and Kyle Allen’s inexperience only made things worse.
Excessive penalties on both sides of the ball reeked of sloppiness and lack of focus. Ron Rivera and his staff were made to look like dinosaurs by the more innovative Kyle Shanahan and his coaches. If this is the best Rivera, his staff, and his players can do coming off a bye week, then let’s go ahead and kiss the 2019 season goodbye.
Pathetic. Just a pathetic performance.
Which Play to Hate had the biggest impact on the Panthers loss?
This poll is closed
It doesn’t even matter. There were about 10 more Plays to Hate that couldn’t be included here. I hated basically everything about this game.