The Carolina Panthers were suppose to beat a San Francisco team with a new head coach and pretty much a new team and that is what they did in impressive fashion 23-3.
A lot of positives coming out of this victory, but here are my three.
This Panthers defense was NASTY today
This Panthers defense looks like it is going to be a top 5 D this season.
They terrorized 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer as they sacked him 4 times. The Cats also picked off Hoyer once and had 1 fumble recovery.
Carolina held San Fran to 2 for 11 on 3rd downs and shut them down on 4th down as the Niners only converted 1 of 4.
The Niners only managed 51 rushing yards which made them pretty predictable and the Panthers used that to their advantage.
As the offense and more specificity Cam Newton knock off the rust, this unit will have to be strong and keep putting the offense in position to succeed if this team will be a playoff team.
Cam Newton is still rusty
This was expected and it showed up in a big way especially in the first half. But the bottom line is, it didn't hurt this team in the win-loss column.
Cam's stat line was 14 of 25 passing for 171 yards and 2 TD with 1 INT as he threw a deep ball into double coverage.
In the first half, he over threw a few open targets and I do mean WIDE OPEN.
But as the game went on, Cam started getting his legs under him and began to look more like the Cam Newton we know.
This may be the case the first quarter of the season as Cam continues to recover from off season shoulder surgery. He only threw 2 passes in the preseason so it's going to take some game reps in actual games before he really gets comfortable with that shoulder and get his timing with his receivers.
A lot of Cam's improvement will be up to the offensive line.
Offensive Line was solid
Big kudos to the offensive line today as they kept Cam Newton clean.
They gave up NO sacks to the Niners and that will be very important as Cam continues to knock the rust off.
The Panthers also rushed for 116 yards. Another positive that will help Cam get back into rhythm throwing the ball.
Speaking of rushing the ball, Panthers first round draft pick Christian McCaffrey was a busy guy as he had 13 rushes and 5 catches. It's just one game, but this could be the first sign of the "evolution" of the Panthers offense. We will see what Run CMC's work load will be next week.
Speaking of which, next Sunday, the home opener for the Panthers as they host 1-0 Buffalo. This is a game Carolina will be favored to win, but it will be a tougher challenge than today's game against San Fran. It will be the return of former D-Coordinator Sean McDermott who is now the head coach of the Bills and the return of fullback Mike Tolbert who rushed for 42 yards and 1 TD in Buffalo's win over the Jets.