49ers game vs. Panthers could still be ruined by Brian Burns

Brian Burns #53 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Brian Burns #53 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

2-2. 42. CBS. 49ers -6.5. 4:05 p.m. ET. Sunday, Oct. 9. 1-3. 87

The Panthers are woefully outmatched by the 49ers in Week 5, but pass-rusher Brian Burns could be one player who turns the table against San Francisco.

On paper, the San Francisco 49ers should have little trouble dominating the talent-lacking Carolina Panthers in Week 5.

True, the Niners are having to travel back to the East Coast on a short week after handling the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4 on Monday Night Football, and cross-country road trips always add a degree of skepticism against otherwise lopsided matchups.

Putting that all aside, Week 5 could be a blowout. Perhaps not an offensive masterpiece by head coach Kyle Shanahan, but rather it could be defensive domination on the part of Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa against an underperforming Panthers offense.

However, going back to that degree of skepticism, there’s also a player on Carolina’s side who could end up spoiling San Francisco’s trip to Bank of America Stadium.

49ers must be mindful of Panthers EDGE Brian Burns

The Panthers lack defensive talent, yes. Yet their defense as a whole has nevertheless worked its way through the first four weeks of 2022, having allowed 85 points, tied for 13th best in the league.

And if there’s one player who could do damage to the 49ers on Sunday, it’s Pro Bowl pass-rusher Brian Burns.

Granted, Burns’ three sacks on the year don’t come close to Bosa’s six, and it’s no extreme statement to suggest the Niners have the better pass-rusher of the two. That said, however, San Francisco enters this game with a banged-up and depleted offensive line, already missing All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) and now down to a third-string lineman, Jaylon Moore, after No. 2 tackle Colton McKivitz suffered an MCL sprain in last Monday’s win over Los Angeles.

According to Pro Football Focus, Burns has a pass-rush productivity mark of 10.1, and anytime a player gets into double digits in this metric, he’s usually doing a good job of getting to the quarterback.

Read More: Should Niners trade for Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey?

Sure, the 49ers did a fairly adequate job protecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo against the likes of Rams defensive standouts like Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, holding Los Angeles to zero sacks. But Burns’ presence is going to offer up yet another challenge the Niners will have to absorb.

Putting things bluntly, Burns is one of only a handful of players who could do more than just frustrate what is still a sub-par San Francisco offense with Garoppolo under center.

And, in games like these, allowing an inferior opponent like Carolina to “hang around” in the scoring department might be a clear way for the 49ers to experience the road upset.

Both teams kick off from Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 4:05 p.m. ET.

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