The San Francisco 49ers kick off their 2017 NFL season with a home contest against the Carolina Panthers. Let’s look at the backdrop of this game and what to expect.
Speed and aggression to the defense were the most predominant factors that anybody could assess when looking at what priorities were added by the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.
The Carolina Panthers added Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft, showing a new tendency for underneath routes and quick checkdowns for star quarterback Cam Newton, after a season that was defined by the hits taken in the backfield as apposed by the catches downfield.
While the Panthers added these weapons, the Niners added players like Reuben Foster and Elvis Dumervil, on top of a gap-play defense that personifies speed and aggression.
San Francisco 49ers
I see the speed of the 49ers front seven negating Carolina’s new check-down offense — the most concentrated Panthers efforts being applied to the oversized receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess against San Francisco’s lanky and quirky secondary, consisting of Rashard Robinson and “cover by committee.”
Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward playing at the safety positions can help to alleviate some of the large WR mismatch, but the cornerbacks are going to be tested. Benjamin and Funchess could beat the defense up on the line and perform on a short-yardage, possession-kind of drive, while San Francisco’s front seven iscovering even more underneath routes and patient-style run schemes.
The best medicine for this type of problem is quarterback pressure, and that is something I personally believe is present in spades. I think that the 49ers will have four sacks from four different players, maybe more.
The Panther’s large receivers will keep them in the game, but defense will tell the tale. I am predicting a closer game than most would pontificate, that will keep the over-under beneath 50 points and put the Niners winning by three or more.
The Panthers secondary will have issues covering the 49ers top-speed and breakaway short routes. San Francisco will have issues running the ball but do just enough to play out the game plan head coach Kyle Shanahan writes up.
It will be a complete 60-minute effort from both teams. But by the time it is called and in the columns, Shanahan’s game plan will put one in the win column for the Niners this week.
A direct breakdown on speculation isn’t typically how I would cover the 49ers, but this team and I tend to think the same, and I will go out on a limb the first game of this new regime.
As wil many of the fans.
Continue to follow Niner Noise for the best coverage of the 49ers throughout the 2017 season.