Today’s matchup features the 6-2 49ers against the 5-3 Panthers from The Stick.
Both teams come in on a roll of different sorts. Carolina has won four in a row while San Francisco has won five in a row. Something has to give, and somebody’s win streak will come to an end tonight.
With that, here are five things to watch for:
5- Cam Newton
Cam hasn’t fared well against good defenses, especially one that contains his running lanes on the read-option. Earlier this season at Arizona, who has one of the best run defenses in the league, Cam was frustrated all day long as Carolina was held to just two field goals in a 22-6 loss.
Cam finished 21 of 39 for 308 yards, zero touchdown passes, three interceptions, and 25 yards rushing on four carries.
4- The return of Aldon Smith
After missing the last five games due to rehabbing for substance abuse, linebacker Aldon Smith is back on active roster. How much playing time he’ll get today has yet to be determined, but expected to see Aldon at least on passing downs, especially 3rd and longs.
3- The return of Mario Manningham
Colin Kaepernick may flash a bit of a smile today during pregame knowing that he’s got back an offensive threat in Mario Manningham, who makes his season debut after suffering a knee injury late last season. Manningham brings an immediate deep threat to a passing offense that ranks near the bottom of the league and could help the 49ers passing game in the middle of the field.
2- Colin Kaepernick
The Kap Attack has been on a roll the last five games combining for nine total touchdowns, including three on the ground the last two weeks. During the winning streak, the 49ers offense has averaged almost 35 points a game.
1- Something has to give
With two top defenses meeting each other, you would expect a low scoring 13-10 kind of a football game, but truth be told, in games like this, expect the unexpected. The 49ers offense has averaged almost 35 points a game during their winning streak while the Panthers have allowed just 12 a game. Something has to give and turnovers and specials teams could be the determining factors in today’s game.