The 49ers travel to North Carolina this weekend to throw themselves under the Panthers’ playoff bus on Sunday. At least, that’s the general view around the league and in Las Vegas.
Apparently, the blow out win over the Rams did not impress anyone all that much. Partly that’s because the Rams don’t impress anybody all that much, but also because the Niners only managed 14 points through the first three quarters. If that’s all they manage against the Panthers’ defense, the team would probably be looking at a sizable deficit entering the fourth quarter, rather than clinging to a modest lead.
Cam Newton, the Panthers’ QB, is not exactly in the same zip code as the Rams’ QB Case Keenum. Probably not even in the same galaxy. Newton’s offense finished numero uno in the NFL last year. The 49er offense is not going to be much better or worse than what they were against the Rams, but the Niner defense will have a whole other challenge than what the Rams offered. How the defense fares in this game will probably tell us all we need to know about the likely future of the team the rest of this season.
Still, this is a great chance for the Niners to send a message to the rest of the league that they are no longer in the bottom dregs of NFL society and have leapt into the “7-9 bullshit” arena of dependable and sustainable mediocrity. Hip, hip, hoo cares?
Below is a picture of Carlos Hyde’s first TD run against the Rams on Monday night. This is about as well executed a blocking scheme as you’re liable to see the entire rest of the season. Hyde’s eyes must have lit up at what he saw. And there was good old Joe Staley five yards down field along with Vance McDonald sealing off the linebackers for an easy jaunt to the end zone. Great job by the O-line