Sunday -- When the Carolina Panthers kicked off against the San Francisco 49ers they did so on an emotional low-note as the mourned the passing mother of Panthers' lineback Shaq Thompson. It would the entire first half to get their energy going in a different direction.
On the first series, the 49ers George Kittle reeled in an akwardly tipped ball for the first down - appropriately for him because of it being National Tight End day. The 49ers followed that a few plays later with a Tevin Coleman 21-yard run to the Panthers 19. The 49ers exploited the middle of the field early, as expected, and finalized the first drive with a 4-yard Jimmy Garappolo completion to Sanders to finish an 11-play 75-yard drive to put them up by 7 to start the game.
The Panthers first efforts were marred by the 49ers' Nick Bosa who notched his fifth sack of the year to halt Kyle Allen's effort's and the Panthers initial drive of the game.
But the Panthers got a do-over of sorts as Luke Kuechly intercepted Jimmy Garappolo's pass on the very next play with under seven minutes left in the first quarter.
The 49ers used the momentum of the home crowd to mount a drive toward the end of the first quarter that end with Tevin Coleman scoring on a 19-yard run - his third of the year. The 6-play 75-yard drive extended the 49ers lead to 14-3 to close out the first quarter.
The Panthers were held to a field goal in the first quarter due to the lack of protection for Allen who was sacked twice. Kittle led the receiving attack for the 49ers including a 29-yard recption to set up their second touchdown.
The Panthers struggles continued into the second quarter. On the first Panthers drive of the second, Allen was intercepted for the first time of his professional career by the 49ers Emmanuel Moseley, leaving the 49ers with a short field. On the following possesion Jimmy Garoppolo completed the short 10-yard pass to Coleman for the score to put the 49ers up 21-3.
The Christian McCaffrey 43-yard run that would have given the Panthers a first and goal situation was negated by a holding call on Trai Turner.
The excessive motion in the 49ers offense appeared to work well as the Panthers gave up 259 yards and 27 points in the first half. The top performer of the first half was San Fran Sisco running back Tevin Coleman who rushed for 91 yards and 2 TD as well as a 10-yard reception for a touchdown.
The defensive side gave no better results with the Panthers' Allen being sacked six times headed into the half.
AT THE HALF:
The Panthers' defense showed signs of reviving early in the third quarter when linebacker Bruce Irvin sacked Jimmy Garoppolo in the End Zone for the safety. The Panthers trailed 27-5.
The momentum carried over to the Panthers' offense on their next series. With 11:15 left in the third quarter, McCaffrey scampered 40 yards up the left side for the score. The 2-point attempt by McCaffrey was successful and brought the Panthers to within two scores.
Protecting a 27-13 lead, the 49ers went back to their number one receiver. Garoppolo's 25-yard completion to Kittle was the chunk play that positioned the 49ers for a Deebo Samuel 20-yard TD run four plays later to extend the lead to 34-13.
The fourth quarter is when most teams rally for a comeback. But the 49ers defense made that an impossibility too big for Allen to overcome. Allen's pass intended for R.Bonnafon was intercepted by the 49ers Bosa at the 45 and returned 46 yards. The play led to a 20-yard field goal to put the 49ers up 44-13 and virtually out of reach for Carolina.
The 49ers, who had 5 rush TD and 7 sacks in their win over Carolina, remain unbeaten and advance to 7-0 while the Panthers fall to 4-3. The next decision for the team is whether to keep Kyle Allen in as the team's starting quarterback.
K. Allen 19/37 153 YDS 0 TD 3 INT J. Garoppolo 18/22 175 YDS 2 TD
C. McCaffrey 14 CAR 117 YDS T. Coleman 11 CAR 105 YDS
C. Samuel 2 46 YDS G. Kittle 6 86 YDS
L. Kuechly 9 F. Warner 6
B. Irvin 1 N. Bosa 3
L. Kuechly 1 N. Bosa 1
R. Sherman 1
E. Moseley 1