Week 1 is finally here! Here is everything you need to know about the Carolina Panthers’ season opener in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon.
|GAME TIME||4:25 PM EDT|
|LOCATION||SANTA CLARA, CA|
KEY PLAYER (San Francisco 49ers): Carlos Hyde
The San Francisco 49ers’ offense will revolve around the talented but often injured running back. Hyde will get plenty of carries in this game and see some action in the passing game. However, he will be going against one of the better front 7’s in the league, and it might be tough for him to find room with Carolina’s stud linebacker trio of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson.
KEY PLAYER (Carolina Panthers): Christian McCaffrey
This is our first look at the Panthers’ star rookie running back in his first real NFL action. Reports are that McCaffrey has an entire playbook built around him, and we finally get to see what Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula has planned for the rookie. Expect to see him lined up in the backfield, in the slot, and potentially even out wide in certain formations. McCaffrey should be a main feature in both the Panthers’ rushing and passing attacks this season. His explosiveness makes him a big play threat whenever he has the ball in space and the 49ers defense will have their hands full trying to stop him… especially with no meaningful tape on him to study.
GAME PREVIEW AND ANALYSIS
This game marks the beginning of two eras… the Kyle Shanahan Era in San Francisco, and the Christian McCaffrey Era for Carolina. The 49ers will surely look to start their season on a positive note as rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan makes his debut. Their offense will likely struggle to establish the run game with the stout front seven of the Panthers standing in their way. Conversely, the Panthers will look to get their offense rolling early with new rookie weapons Christian McCaffrey and receiver Curtis Samuel. Cam Newton might experience some rust after little participation in the offseason while he recovered from shoulder surgery on his partially-torn rotator cuff.
Prediction: Panthers 30, 49ers 17