Week 10/Game 9: Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers

When: Sunday, November 10th at 1pm PT (4pm ET)

Where: Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ca.

TV: FOX (Regional to all of California {except San Diego, El Centro markets}, all Nevada, Utah, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Carolina, New York, NY)

Northern/Central California: KTVU 2 San Francisco; KTXL 40 Sacramento; KMPH 26 Fresno; KCVU 20 Chico/Redding

North Carolina: WJZY 46 Charlotte; WGHP 8 Greensboro; WRAZ 50 Raleigh-Durham

Direct TV Sunday Ticket: Channel 712

Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick

49ers Back After Bye Week, Panthers Await- When looking at this match-up between the 49ers and Panthers, one of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was thank goodness the 49ers had their bye week before this game. The 49ers will certainly enter this game well rested and ready to go which is a good thing. Carolina will be as tough of an opponent as any the 49ers will face all season. The Panthers are entering this game with a 5-3 mark and have their eye on not only on making the post season, but also possibly overtaking the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. Make no mistake here, the Panthers are a very good football team. After a poor start and a pair of tough losses Carolina has won their last four games and it’s not unusual for them to put up 30 or more points on any opponent. Outside of one bad game in Arizona, the Panthers have dominated teams. In addition, they almost knocked off Seattle to open the season. Their only other loss was a one point squeaker at Buffalo in Week 3.

Cam Newton/Panthers Offensive Units- Panthers QB Cam Newton is having arguably the best season of his professional career in leading the Carolina offense. Newton’s passer rating on third down plays alone is 120.4 which leads the NFL by a decent margin. This will be something the 49ers defense will need to address on Sunday afternoon. On the season Newton has thrown for over 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns. In addition to his ability to sling the football around the field, he can also run the ball too much like his counterpart Colin Kaepernick. In 55 rushing attempts he has picked up 251 yards and has scored four touchdowns. Newton is not the only offensive weapon on the Panthers. Far from it. However he is certainly one of the most important pieces. Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert are able to make strong gains on the field if given decent running room. As for the receiving corps Newton has some strong targets to throw too in veteran receiver Steve Smith, Greg Olson, Brandon LaFell and former 49er Ted Ginn Jr.

Panthers Defense- The Carolina defensive units are lead by Thomas Davis, Luke Kuchly, Mike Mitchell, Captain Munnerlyn and Greg Hardy. The Panthers are number two in the NFL in points allowed, number two in rushing yards allowed and number three in total yards allowed. In other words Carolina statistically has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Against the pass they are rated 10th. The 49ers offense will certainly have their work cut out for them as well as their defense.

49ers Task At Hand- When you look at all of the Panthers stats they certainly look imposing. However the 49ers each week since Week 4 have steadily improved and have built up some solid momentum. Kapernick and the offense has been clicking. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have been very effective in running the ball in recent games. Kaepernick himself has effectively run the ball off the read option when needed. As the end result the 49ers have become the top rushing team in the NFL and the fifth rated offense overall in terms of scoring. The 49ers however are lagging a little in the passing game and this will need to be better. The 49ers need to be able to better distribute the football to Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Mario Manningham who is slated to make his season debut after a year of dealing with injuries. If the 49ers offensive line can create holes on the Panthers defensive front to get the running game going this will allow the red and gold to stretch the field for Kaepernick. As for Kaepernick, he will absolutely need to be on top of his game here. There is little to no margin for any error whatsoever.

Defensively the 49ers simply put will have their hands full. The biggest help for the defense may come from the offensive units if they are able to sustain some good drives and keep the defense fresh while keeping Cam Newton on the sidelines. The key for the defense will be stopping the Panthers on 3rd down, where Carolina is the toughest out in the NFL. If the Panthers are able to sustain drives, the defense could have a long day and that will not bode well for the 49ers chances in this game. The good news here is that the defense has withstood many test and have been able to shut down most running games. It also helps that they have had two weeks of full rest. Entering this game, the 49ers defense is also rated in the top 10 in three of four statistical categories (4th in overall points allowed, 6th against the run and 8th against the pass. In rush yards allowed the 49ers are 11th overall). Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Eric Reid, Donte Whitner, Trumaine Brock & Company will have their work cut out for them. At the same time they will give the Panthers their toughest test of the season also.

Kingshark Line Prediction- This will be a solid game and by itself will have much entertainment value. The advantage the 49ers will have is that they are well rested and should be prepared for this playoff caliber test. However the 49ers also know that in the second half of the season which begins with this game they are entering “A-Game Territory”. If the 49ers can match their A-Game against Carolina, they should come out on top. That said look for the Panthers to do more than just make a game of this. If the 49ers lag for even a moment in this contest it may not end well for them. However with an extra week to prepare the 49ers should be more than ready for the Panthers. It will be a close one... Kingshark Line: 49ers 34 Panthers 27 ... This will be barn burner territory, not for the faint at heart...

The Kingshark

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