Alright faithfuls! Week 8 is here and all week long we’ve heard how this will be the toughest test on the 49ers’ schedule to date (see how we made everyone forget about the Rams???). Well, let’s get right into it!
1. Emmanuel Sanders shines in 49ers debut – the team traded for 32 year old wide out just 5 days ago and it feels like its been a year! After hearing about the trade, whispers came out that the 49ers had to give up “more” to acquire Sanders for this week instead of next week. After digging and looking into why, it turns out that the “weakest link” on the Carolina Panthers’ defense is their nickle cornerback. The problem with this theory is that Donte Jackson has been out since week 3, causing quite a shuffle at the positions. Javien Elliot was forced into the role but shouldn’t see the field much today barring injury. That means the Panthers will likely alternate Jackson and Cockrell on the 49ers’ slot WR depending on the match-up. Here’s the prediction portion: Jackson will be on a snap count and the veteran Sanders will keep heads spinning. Shanahan gets his new toy and he shines from day 1 to the tune of 6 receptions 107 yards and 1 touchdown.
2. Deforest Buckner gets 2 sacks – normally this wouldn’t be a prediction worth noting or, at the very least, belong in the BOLD section, but Buckner has been “the worst” defensive lineman for the 49ers according to PFF. The Panthers should be getting RG Trai Turner back today which means the LT position could be rookie Dennis Daley (who has been playing surprisingly well). The problem with the Panthers is that they trust veterans more than they trust their own eyes. We will blame Norv Turner for the veteran Darryl Williams possibly getting the start at tackle, instead. If this happens, Buckner will feast, as Williams can’t handle Bosa, Bosa will see double teams, and Buckner shouldn’t struggle with the single coverage of either Panthers guard. Buckner finishes with 3 tackles, 2 sacks and another TFL (2 assist. tackles as well).
3. 49ers offensive line surprises – but not in a good way. The last two games, the 49ers have played two rookies at the tackle positions. To the masses, they’ve seemed to play admirably, but the devil is in the details. It’s harder to critique tackles with the team is running the ball over 40 times a game. However, if you look at the 1st bold prediction of this article, you’ll see that I expect the 49ers to pass more than they have all year. This is dangerous. The tackles haven’t truly been tested and this could force the team into further passing situations. Both tackles will let us a sack and this will alter play calling from Shanahan. This will benefit the shifty veteran WR and bolster his numbers which result in the prediction 1.
4. Kyle Allen throws his first interception – This will be the best defensive front the Panthers have played to date. This will result in an absurd amount of pressure front the front 4 and disguises in the secondary. In short, pressures busts pipes and makes diamonds. The 49ers will benefit heavily. Here’s where the prediction gets deeper…
5. Not only will Allen throw an interception, it will happen very early in the game – this will cause Allen to be antsy, get flustered and start believing all the pass rush rumors of the 49ers. Meanwhile, his sack fumble woes continue. Not often mentioned, Allen has lost the ball 6 times in his 4 starts but the Panthers have recovered 2. This week, Allen will lose two in which the 49ers defense will recover. One fumble caused by Dee Ford and the other by Arik Armstead.
This should be a game that’s fun for all to watch. If you like defensive battles, there will be plenty to see on both sides. If you like to see offensive geniuses playing chess on a football field, Kyle Shanahan and Norval Turner won’t disappoint either.