Before getting injured, Cam Newton led Carolina to an 0-2 record. Then Kyle Allen took over and the Panthers won four straight.
Newton is reportedly more or less healthy now, but HC Ron Rivera will apparently roll the dice this weekend with Allen. The old ride the hot hand bit.
Maybe it doesn’t matter who plays QB for the Panthers right now, since Christian McCaffrey represents just about their whole offense this season. Not that he can’t be stopped. Against the Bucs, he had 22 carries for just 37 yards. Not even two yards per carry.
This game marks the end of the wimp part of the schedule and the beginning of tough games. The only game left on the schedule that’s a lay down is Atlanta in December. The other nine games are all against teams with winning records. All except the 3-3-1 Cardinals, a division foe that beat the Niners twice last year.
Carolina has a ninth rated defense and twelfth rated offense. A legitimately good team. A loss to them would put a serious crimp in the league wide bandwagon forming that thinks the 49ers are contenders. It would put a crimp in our own notions, too.
If the Panthers depend heavily on McCaffrey to open up their offense, the Niners lean just as much on George Kittle to make their passing game go. The rest of the WRs hardly register on the NFL richter scale. To that end, the team just traded for Emmanuel Sanders.
Emmanuel means (loosely) “savior” in Hebrew. That might be a stretch, but Sanders is a proven receiver who gets open and almost never drops a pass. He was lost in Denver, where they are trying to play a whole season with nobody worth a shit at QB. He’s probably thrilled to join the Niners. All he has to do is stay healthy for the passing game to improve. Hopefully, he’ll make an impact this Sunday.