49ers Still Have A Very Long Way To Go; Lose 23-3 In Season Opener

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA CA–The beginning of the 2017 NFL season didn’t go as planned for the 49ers, as they were completely manhandled by the Carolina Panthers 23-3.

“It was disappointing, whether it was the first, last, or any one I have in the rest of my career, it was disappointing. I don’t think that it mattered that it was the first. Anytime you lose in that way; it’s frustrating and disappointing. I’ll feel it all day today and all night [and I’m sure our players will too], and come back tomorrow and see how we can improve,” head coach, Kyle Shanahan commented on his pro debut.

Sunday’s home opener stayed scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the game until the 49ers lost Reuben Foster to a right ankle injury. The rookie linebacker laid on the turf for an eternity before the cart took him off the field. Foster took all of the 49ers’ momentum with him into the locker room.

After the game, Shanahan reported that all of the x-rays came back negative and that they were holding Foster off the field for precautionary reasons. Foster mentioned, “it’s not that horrible. I’ll be back soon, very, very, very soon”.

On the very first play without Foster, Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton connected with Russell Shepard for a 40-yard touchdown pass giving Carolina the 6-0 lead.

Newton finished the game throwing 14 of 25 for 171, two touchdowns and an interception.

While Foster did step back onto the field, trying to work on his injured ankle, he would not return to the game. Just like Foster, the 49ers mojo also failed to make a comeback, as the Panthers owned San Francisco the rest of the game.

Graham Gano knocked three field goals through for the Panthers from 39 yards, 36 yards, and 20 yards respectively.

Newton threw his second touchdown pass of the day in the third quarter when he connected with Jonathan Stewart on a screen pass to the right side. Stewart did all the work on the nine-yard scoring play.

Stewart split carries with Christian McCaffrey, who made his return to the Bay Area in his NFL debut, with five catches for 38 yards and 13 carries for 47 yards, but he was also stripped of the football once by Rashard Robinson.

After the game, McCaffrey and former roommate at Stanford, Soloman Thomas shared a few words of encouragement while trading jerseys from their professional debuts.

“He’s one of my best friends in the world. He was my roommate and teammate at Stanford and for us to both go in the first round and play against each other in the first game was pretty special,” Thomas added.

There were a few seldom bright spots for the Niners, including a great interception by Jaquiski Tartt grabbing the ball out of the air with one hand while falling to the ground. The pick made up for getting burned on Shepard’s touchdown, in which, he was beaten on the coverage.

Pierre Garcon led the way for the 49ers offensively with six catches for 81 yards but was unable to find his way to paydirt. Brian Hoyer threw 24 of 35 in his San Francisco debut for 193 yards while throwing one interception.

The offensive line was of significant concern heading into Sunday and for a good reason. Sunday’s game showed why, as the internal line struggled, failing to protect Hoyer, who was sacked four times for 27 yards.

The 49ers have the next week to find a way to repair the glaring holes in their game, as they open up their NFC West portion of their schedule in Seattle, who looks to rebound after a dreadful performance in Green Bay.

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