Panthers vs. 49ers: Previewing Week 1 for San Francisco

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Brian Hoyer #2 of the San Francisco 49ers hands the ball to teammate Carlos Hyde #28 against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter in the preseason game on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Brian Hoyer #2 of the San Francisco 49ers hands the ball to teammate Carlos Hyde #28 against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter in the preseason game on August 27, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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SANTA CLARA, CA – AUGUST 19: Brian Hoyer #2 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA – AUGUST 19: Brian Hoyer #2 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Quarterback comparison

Brian Hoyer has the keys to the San Francisco offense. How does he handle it?

Ever since he signed as a free agent this offseason, quarterback Brian Hoyer has been the 49ers starter. The preseason for Hoyer was a rather uneven one. To start the preseason, Hoyer really struggled to get the San Francisco offense going.

It wasn’t until the third preseason game against the Vikings did Hoyer register his first touchdown as a Niner. That game was huge for Hoyer, who finished 12-17 passing for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns in two quarters of play. The Vikings game, coupled with the fact that Hoyer is coming off a season in which he completed 67% of his passes with 1,445 yards and 6 touchdowns in limited action, should provide for a tab bit of optimism.

The play of Hoyer is going to be crucial to the 49ers this year. It doesn’t matter if San Francisco ends up having a top-three defense; if the offense can’t produce, the team isn’t winning.

Cam Newton is coming off a disappointing year. The Panthers have retooled their offense, bringing new weapons into town.

It was only two seasons ago Cam Newton won the NFL MVP. That seems like a long time ago, and Newton is coming off one his poorest seasons as a professional. Last year, Newton set career lows in completion percentage (52.9%), yards per pass attempt (6.9 yards), rating (75.8) and quarterback rating (53.1), per Pro Football Reference.

The team also won six games, the second-lowest season win total for Newton as a starter. Clearly a down year, the Panthers are aiming to bounce back. They added rookie running back Christian McCaffrey to the offense, presumably to take some of the offensive burden Newton carries.

Alongside McCaffrey will be veteran Jonathan Stewart, and the two will form a running back combination that Carolina hasn’t seen in some time. This is all apart to add diverseness to the Panthers offense, with the hopes of taking the focus away from Newton.