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Panthers 13 49ers 51: The Hog Molly Report

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It was a dismal game. Let’s throw the tape out and just move on to the next one, shall we?

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

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Hog Molly Report, where winning in the trenches is all that matters. Before we begin, we open with the reciting of our usual motto:

In keeping with the proven philosophy that building a team from the inside out is the best strategy for long term success, my goal will be to watch the hog mollies each game during the season and give them a grade based on their performance.

This week we will look at the Carolina Panthers impossible to watch, much less re-watch defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers were beaten in all phases of the game during this one, and it’s time for our annual “throw the tape out, and look ahead to the rest of the season” assessment.

This game was a mess, but our season isn’t

The Carolina Panthers may not have a great idea of where they are right now, but I do believe they know a little bit about where they are going. This game was strange, we saw the team start Taylor Moton all of the sudden at left tackle and try to put Daryl Williams back at right tackle. It was an odd start to the game, and while I understand the desire to put your best five linemen out there, but that’s not how playing offensive line works. Cohesion is just as important as the talent on the field, and Matt Paradis, Trai Turner, and Taylor Moton have been working just fine on the right side of the line regardless of the fact that Trai has missed time.

It says to me that they just simply didn’t want to take Daryl Williams off the field. Regardless of the fact that he isn’t better than any single one of the starting offensive linemen for the Panthers, they’ve paid him some money and seem to want to get use out of him. Unfortunately for them, the only positions he is capable of playing are guard or right tackle. If they are not willing to supplant Greg Van Roten at left guard, he simply should not be part of our plans.

I believe that is why you saw such a quick switch to Dennis Daley. They wanted to see if a line could work where Taylor Moton was moved back to left tackle. Why you would choose to test such a thing against the best defense you have played all year, I’ll never know. Especially since they were not showing that look in practice that I am aware of. It was just a very weird opening to the game and it set a tone that I didn’t like and obviously the team didn’t either.

Moving forward, Greg Little will hopefully be healthy and take back over at left tackle for the Panthers. At this point, we have seen that Daley may one day develop into a starting left tackle, but he isn’t there yet. Still, he has shown more at left tackle then Daryl Williams has. Ultimately our best starting five right now when everyone is healthy is Little, Roten, Paradis, Turner, Moton.

The defense will be fine, if not great at times

As far as the defense goes, I think overall they’re going to be fine. Not having Brian Burns fully participate in this game was extremely unfortunate, but long term he is a stud. Bruce Irvin is making a lot of plays, and showing his worth with more snaps. We definitely missed Kawann Short in this one, His run-stopping ability is invaluable. However, we won’t face quite as many dynamic rushing teams as the 49ers were on Sunday.

Though he wasn’t as present against the 49ers, Mario Addison is on his way to one of his best seasons. Dontari Poe also has shown up in a big way, enabling a lot of these 3-4 defensive looks to work. Vernon Butler has been surprisingly productive since he started getting more snaps in Short’s absence. Then you have some positive contributions from rotational players like Jermaine Carter jr., Christian Miller, Efe Obada, and Kyle Love… it speaks to a rebound against the Tennessee Titans, because this group is going to be mad at themselves.

The defense is aggressive, perhaps a little too aggressive. They are so eager to get after the quarterback, that they are forgetting their gap assignments in the run game. Against teams with weaker rushing attacks, or teams that throw the ball a lot, that may be a good approach… but it has bitten us one too many times this season, and I think a lot more teams are going to start following the 49ers blueprint if we don’t get it under control.

Overall, the Carolina Panthers up front are building quite well for the future and are really performing well in the present for the most part, with this game being the exception. Being able to get a look at not one, but two potential tackle prospects that you just drafted, one in the very late hours of the draft, is a rare thing.It certainly is not something the Panthers have ever had, and I maintain that a healthy Cam Newton returning could be just what this team needs for a deep playoff push.