Written by Boris Krutiy
San Francisco 49ers versus Carolina Panthers
What a weekend! What a football game! WHO’S GOT IT BETTER THAN US???
Leading up to this game, I was involved in a number of chats on other blogs regarding this game. I was feeling frisky I guess and chose one that was based out of Charlotte and the Charlotte Observer (local paper). I was a bit outnumbered, to say the least! Everyone was raving about many things, mostly about their defense and how much better it WAS! They would remind me what happened in San Francisco when Carolina beat us 10-9. They boasted their defense and how they man-handled the 49ers offensive line all day as well as how Kuechly and Hardy dominated and have surpassed what Willis and Bowman have been to the 49ers for the last few years, THE BEST! There was only one problem with the logic, they were not seeing the bigger picture.
When we first faced each other in San Francisco, the 49ers had their defense playing strong. The problem was offensively, the 49ers were without Michael Crabtree. Just a little fact for your stat fans. Since Crabtree’s return, the 49ers are undefeated (7-0) and are on an eight game winning streak. On top of the fact that Crabtree did not play, Vernon Davis had to leave with a concussion in the second quarter. This left Anquan Boldin at WR and a number of NO NAMES… To say that we lost because the Panthers were a better team was shortsighted and the 49ers proved that this weekend. They did so not simply by putting up 23 points against a strong defense but by out playing the Carolina Panthers on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the 49ers had something to prove. They had to prove that the offensive line was able to control the line of scrimmage, create lanes for Frank Gore to run in and provide some time for Kaepernick to stand in the pocket and find his receivers downfield, non of which they were able to do during their last matchup in San Francisco. Carolina’s front seven completely dominated the game. In the rematch, it was not the case. The offensive line was successful and actually kept the big guys (i.e. Kuechly and Hardy) quiet. Even though Kuechly was able to record a sack, it was the only one of the day between the two Pro-Bowl caliber linebackers. In the meantime, our defense was getting stop after stop all day which included two big goal line stands that kept them out of the end zone on both occasions. It was the turning point of the game in my opinion because instead of going up 14-6 or more if they scored on both possessions, Carolina settled for a field goal on the second drive for a 10-6 lead, but they gave the 49ers enough time to drive down the field, make some big plays and come up with a big TD before halftime to make it a 13-10 game.
The second half is when the 49ers defense simply took over and dominated. They gave no points in the entire second half and came up with a total of two turnovers and five sacks, literally flipping the results from the previous matchup and proving, once again, that the 49ers are the team to beat! Though Aldon and Justin Smith had quiet days, it was actually Ahmad Brooks that had a huge game coming up with 2.5 sacks on the day and was in on the play of the game when he stuffed Cam Newton on the fourth and goal play at the one yard line… Gamechanger!
The San Francisco 49ers showed up big time in Carolina. Was the big stage too big for Cam Newton who was making his post-season debut? He is now 0-1 in his short career while Colin Kaepernick is 4-1 and has proven in every game that he can make a big play. Truthfully, Kaepernick is 5 yards and a TD away from being 5-0 with a Superbowl ring in the postseason, which was not his fault. Who in their right mind has a first and goal at the 5 yard line scenario and NOT run the ball with Frank Gore??? A combination of poor time management and horrific play calling by OC Greg Roman was the reason the 49ers lost the Superbowl!
Enough about the past. Lets look forward to the SF/SEA matchup which will be the most watched game this weekend. Lets face it, everyone knows that the winner of this matchup will be favored to win it all, no matter who goes to the Superbowl in the AFC (sorry Peyton/Tom)