Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

Panthers – 49ers Preview

panthers_49ers_APBy Jim Bearor

These teams look very similar on paper and on the field, because for the most part, they are.  Both have elite defenses, a young versatile quarterback, and a ground-and-pound offensive mentality.  Last time they met up, Carolina bested San Francisco, 10-9 in a game where offense was hard to come by.  To me, this is less of a knock against Newton and Kaepernick, and more of a testament to the defensive squads of each team – linebackers especially.

On the Panthers side of things, it’s Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly leading the charge.  The two have combined for 179 tackles on the season and are not only making a difference up front, but also in the flats and other passing situations.  They definitely gave Kaepernick some trouble the last time these guys met, sacking him six times and holding him to 91 passing yards.

The 49ers have an equally impressive defensive unit that is getting hot at the right time, due mostly in part to their linebackers – who in my opinion are the league’s best.  The star-studded group consists of Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith.  Bowman and Willis are the heart of the defense, stuffing the few running holes that opposing offenses manage to open up at the line of scrimmage and covering a great deal of  ground over the middle in the passing game as well.  Brooks and Smith are great at rushing off the edge, combining for 17 sacks during the regular season.

While the linebackers draw most of the attention for both of these teams, their offensive and defensive lines are also big difference makers. In a league where passing and defending the pass are usually the focus, the 49ers and Panthers win their games the old fashioned way – by controlling the line of scrimmage, creating pressure on the quarterback, and running the ball effectively.

So what’s the difference between these teams?

Not much, in my eyes.

            Carolina is playing in front of their home crowd, and there are injuries to consider, and that’s about it.  I don’t trust Colin Kaepernick more than Cam Newton or vice-versa.  Kaepernick has a touch more playoff experience than first-timer Newton, but neither has a playoff reputation to this point, and they both know how to play in big games (look at Newton’s college career and his most recent encounter with the Saints).

            What I think this game will come down to is the performance of the quarterbacks.  The difference will be which quarterback breaks out or falls on his face.  If I had to a gun to my head and had to choose between Colin and Cam, I think I’d take Cam. Steve Smith’s return and Carlos Rogers’ absence also factors in to that choice.

Panthers win 24-14


Contact High

by Nick Wershing

Here we are, just a few weeks removed from the 2012 NFL Draft, and the hype all the rookies are creating continues to increase. Teams are saying how good their rookies look and how they will be competing for starting spots in the upcoming season. But what are they basing their opinions on? These players are just going through OTAs right now. It’s all the guys vying for the last spots on the roster playing in no pads. No one will actually know who is going to compete for playing time this year until they are up against the best players, playing at full speed, and playing with full contact.

Yes, certain players were brought in to be the starter in the near future, if not now. Luck, RG3, Tannehill, maybe even Weeden, were all brought in to compete for the starting job now. But teams like the Seahawks, who are saying their 3rd round, undersized QB is competing for the starting job are jumping the gun a little too early. I’m sure that Russell Wilson is making all the throws right now. But I am also sure that B.J. Coleman (7th round pick from Chattanooga), is looking pretty good too. And I don’t hear anyone saying he is going to compete with Aaron Rodgers this year. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that Matt Flynn and Tavaris Jackson are on Rodgers’ level, nor am I saying that Wilson is not a great talent. All I am saying is that it is far too early for coaches, teams, and fans to be proclaiming their new draft picks, especially ones after the first two rounds, a key component in their offense. Quarterback may be the hardest position to adapt to in the NFL. How can someone expect a late round QB to immediately make an impact?

These coaches, teams, and fans are suffering from what I am going to call a contact high. For months now, they have heard great things about what these kids (or grown men in Weeden’s case) did in college. Now they expect that to directly transfer into the NFL. Does anyone really expect Luck to come in and have a 3.7 touchdown to interception ration? Is Luke Kuechly going to average close to 16 tackles a game for the Panthers? These are elite talent players, who looked even better due to the competition they faced in college. Now everyone they face is close to the same talent level as they are, if not better. I caution everyone to give their rookies time to develop, learn the system, and grow accustomed to the NFL. Alex Smith was said to be the answer for the 49ers when he was taken with the first pick in the 2005 draft. Well, he seems to be now, having led them to the NFC Championship last year, but it took him 6 or 7 years to get there. Teams need to relax and stop putting so much pressure on these kids. And everyone needs to ignore the contact high they are receiving from the hype of the draft. Remember, for every Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, there is a Jamarcus Russell and Aklili Smith.

Follow Nick Wershing on Twitter: @n_shing