Emmanuel Moseley celebrates his pick six of Baker Mayfield with his teammates at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday OCT 9, 2022. (San Francisco 49ers)
by Marko Ukalovic
It was a mismatch from beginning to end.
The San Francisco 49ers played its most complete of the game of the season in a commanding 37-15 blowout victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
The 49ers have won two games in a row after starting out 1-2 and lead the NFC West by a game over the rest of the rest of the division as everyone else lost their respective games. Carolina have lost two in a row and four of its first five games.
Once again San Francisco showed why it has one of the best defenses in the league. They sacked Panthers quarterbacks six times with one interception and contained star running back Christian McCaffery for the majority of the game, making him a non-factor in the one-dimensional Panthers offense.
San Francisco (3-2), for the second consecutive game, scored on its opening possession. Quarterback Jimmy Garopollo went 3 of 4 for 34 yards on a seven play 75-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard touchdown reception by backup running back Tevin Coleman on a screen play. Jeff Wilson Jr set up the drive with a 41-yard run to the Panthers nine-yard line.
Coleman was activated from the practice squad this week and proved dividends in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. It was Coleman’s first touchdown since 2019.
“I love when anyone gets in the end zone for us,” Shanahan said regarding Coleman’s performance. “Tevin’s (Coleman) awesome. It’s good having him back here. Those two touchdowns were awesome. I can’t believe the play he made on that third down. That go route, going up for that ball was huge. It kept us on the field. It was awesome for him to step it up.”
The one blip to the 49er’s afternoon was when Damien Wilson forced a fumble after a George Kittle reception that Yetur Gross-Matos recovered in the first quarter. It was just Kittle’ second career fumble in his six-season career.
Carolina (1-4) wasn’t able to take advantage of the turnover as kicker Eddie Pineiro missed a 41-yard field goal attempt.
San Francisco went up by two scores with 43 seconds left in the second quarter. Emmanuel Moseley intercepted a poorly thrown ball by quarterback Baker Mayfield and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 17-3 lead.
The Panthers scored to open the second half on their opening drive. McCaffery cashed in a 4th and 1 conversion with a 19-yard touchdown run. However, Carolina failed on its two-point conversion attempt. Raheem Blackshear set up the seven play 51-yard drive with a 45-yard kickoff return.
San Francisco answered with a 10 play, 75-yard drive when Garoppolo connected with Deebo Samuel on a four-yard touchdown reception to give the 49ers a 24-9 lead more than halfway in the third quarter.
“Across the board we’re playing good offensively. We got ways to go, but yeah it was fun,” Garoppolo said.
San Francisco’s defense stepped up its game holding Carolina to just two more field goals the rest of the game.
San Francisco iced the game early in the fourth quarter with a long 12 play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6:09 off the clock when Wilson Jr. scored a one-yard touchdown to give the Niners a 30-12 lead. Jauan Jennings kept the drive alive converting a third down and 10 with a 22-yard reception that was followed by a 16-yard run by Wilson Jr. to the Panthers one-yard line.
Coleman concluded the scoring for San Francisco with his second touchdown of the game, a five-yard rushing touchdown. The drive was set up by a failed fourth down conversion attempt by Carolina that gave the ball to San Francisco at the three-yard line.
“I showed that I still have it. And it was definitely fun out there to play with this team,” Coleman said.
Unfortunately for San Francisco they suffered some key injuries during the game. Defensive end Nick Bosa went out of the game early in the second half with a groin injury and did not return. Kicker Robbie Gould was injured with a knee contusion when trying to tackle Blackshear during a 48-yard return. He also did not finish the game as punter Mitch Wishnowsky had to fill in for Gould making one of two extra points.
Moseley suffered a serious knee injury as Shanahan fear he may have a torn ACL. Jimmy Ward suffered a broken hand as both players did not return to the game.
“As much as it’s easy to say next man up, it’s not like we’re not thinking about those guys and missing them. But we’re going to find a way to get through it and continue to play at a high level,” linebacker Fred Warner said.
Garoppolo finished the game with an efficient 18-for-30 for 253 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilson Jr. had his best game of the season as he led all rushers with 120 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown. Kittle led the 49ers passing attack with five catches for 47 yards on six targets in his come-out game of the season. Brandon Aiuyk chipped in three catches for 58 yards.
Mayfield, who was benched late in the game for PJ Walker late in the game, finished the game 20-for-36 for 215 yards with no touchdowns and the pick six. McCaffery was held to just 54 yards on the ground on 14 carries but did chip in seven catches for 50 yards on 12 targets.
GAME NOTES: San Francisco was 7-for-12 on third conversions. Carolina was just 3-for-15.
The Niners improved to 6-6 all-time at Carolina.
Head coach Shanahan improved to 5-4, including two consecutive wins, against the NFC South as the head coach of the 49ers.
The 49ers defense did not allow a TD in the first half for the 5th-consecutive game, marking the first time they accomplished the feat since 2011 (6-consectutive games from Weeks 8-13).
The streak marks the first time in franchise history that the 49ers defense did not allow a first-half TD in the first 5 games of the season and the first time among all NFL teams since Carolina accomplished the feat in 2013 [7 games: Weeks 1-8 (Week 4 Bye)].
Carolina is 0-25 when they have allowed 17 or more points in a game.
San Francisco held Carolina to just 64 net yards rushing.
UP NEXT: San Francisco concludes its two-game road trip when they take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday 10/16 at 10:00am at Mercedez-Benz Stadium.