The 49ers had numerous opportunities to put the game away early, but Carolina put the clamps on Colin Kaepernick and Co. when they needed a key stop. The 49ers offense was held to 151 yards, including just 91 yards passing; both totals mark career lows of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Carolina's front-four also sacked Kaepernick six times. From top to bottom, San Francisco's offense appeared lost and out-of-sync the whole game. Losing Vernon Davis did not help matters either, as he left with a second-quarter concussion.
After the game, NaVorro Bowman was pretty honest in his assessment of his team's performance. "We as a defense can't control anything that's going on on the other side of the ball. That's the stressful part about having a good game, knowing you are playing well. You can't control the other side. We as a defense, we are going to go back and always get better. But that's a tough loss for us."
As a result of the 49ers' disappointing loss, NFL analysts have them falling in their latest power rankings.
Yahoo -- Frank Schwab -- No. 8 (Last week: No. 5)
"Seems like a big drop for a one-point home loss, but No. 6 and 7 on the list already won at San Francisco this year."
The teams that Schwab is referring to are the Carolina Panthers (6) and Indianapolis Colts (7). Both teams were physical on defense, and pressured Kaepernick throughout their respective games.
Losing at home to Carolina is a tough blow for the 49ers. This loss could come back to haunt the Red and Gold down the road.
CBSSports.com -- Pat Kirwan -- No. 9 (Last week: No. 5)
"The Niners have a good defense and will be a playoff team, but their offense is a question mark, especially if Kaepernick has to win with the passing game. He was sacked six times in 28 pass plays."
In the 49ers' three losses, Kaepernick averaged just 122.67 passing yards while leading his offense to 6.3 points per game. At some point in the season, Kaepernick will need to win a game with his arm.
Hopefully by then, he'll have his full arsenal of weapons at his disposal.
NFL.com -- Elliot Harrison -- No. 8 (Last week: No. 6)
"Stat of the day: the 49ers totaled 46 net passing yards Sunday . That's pretty brutal. Colin Kaepernick was exposed in every way, both by the Panthers ' pass rush and as a quarterback who can't make his receivers look better than they really are. The loss of Vernon Davis to a concussion really hurt. If Davis can't go next week in New Orleans , the 49ers could very well be staring a losing streak in the face."
Davis plays a paramount role in the 49ers offense, both as a blocker and receiver. With Michael Crabtree still sidelined, losing the star tight end for any prolonged period of time will restrict the 49ers' gameplan.
Playing within the confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Drew Brees' offense has scored an average of 38 points in their last four home games. Whether or not Davis will be available, Kaepernick must find a way to match Brees point for point if they intend to walk out victorious.
Fox Sports -- Brian Billick -- No. 6 (Last week: No. 2)
"The NFL's best rushing offense was held to just 105 yards on the ground and just 151 total yards. That won't win very many games. "
Billick went straight to the point here. Frank Gore should be the focal point heading into every game. If he isn't running enough, or effectively, it could spell trouble for the offense. Given Kaepernick's struggles this year passing the ball, he'll need the threat of the ground game to be at his best.
ESPN.com -- No. 8 (Last Week: No. 5)
"Colin Kaepernick was 0-for-6 on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield, including a game-ending interception. It was Kaepernick's first career game not completing a deep pass with multiple attempts."
The loss of Davis in the first half really handcuffed Kaepernick. The Panthers blanketed Anquan Boldin for much of the afternoon, and Mario Manningham was just making his season debut. Both wideouts were held to only six catches for 53 yards.
Carolina may boast one of the NFL's top defenses, but the lack of production through the air is a bit concerning moving forward.
Travis Chan is a native of the Bay Area and a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- San Francisco 49ers
- Carolina Panthers
- Colin Kaepernick
- Vernon Davis
- San Francisco