Despite a few miscues, Carolina ruled this game pretty early on. While they didn’t run away with it, they showed decisively enough that they are here to play.
Cam Newton came back from his shoulder surgery in fine fashion. After throwing just two in-game passes in the preseason, he still had plenty to show. What came out was a little bit of rust, but plenty of excitement for the season. With a little help of a very nice run after catch by Russell Shepard in the first quarter, the Panthers got out in front and never looked back.
The ‘9ers defense did not go down without a fight, picking off Newton one time, and causing a few fumbles. The offensive line did not give up a sack.
Also showcased was the pass catching ability of Christian McCaffrey. He hauled in five catches from Cam in what was just the start of things to come for Carolina fans. McCaffrey also ran 13 times for 47 yards, sharing an equal load with Stewart, who averaged the same 3.6 YPC. The two-headed attack has begun. The blemish on McCaffrey’s game was a lost fumble in the 4th quarter. It’s worth noting that NaVorro Bowman had nothing to do with that one.
Despite getting gashed a few times by Carlos Hyde runs and Pierre Garcon catches, the defense held its own in this one. They came up with a fumble and an interception (by Luke Kuechly) from Hoyer to keep this game in control.
Overall. the Panthers covered the points spread as many figured they would. They showed that they have come to play after a disappointing season, and did not play down to their competition in a 49ers team that is very much rebuilding. Despite Newton’s rust, he clearly already has chemistry with his receivers and his running backs, both old and new.