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Perhaps, the dullest game of Week 1. Carolina meandered through this game on cruise control, and the 49ers were too hapless to put up any challenge. It was 23-0 late into the third before the 49ers offered up a field goal. 23-3 final.
Carolina's defense was aggressive and energetic and the offensive genius for SF had no answer all game. I didn’t get what the 49ers' plan was, not pushing Carlos Hyde more…and then the game started slipping away and all the clever pass play calls were not so clever/not executed well. Rookie head coaches usually fare well in debuts (McVay, McDermott, Marrone). The only other rookie head coach that lost (Lynn) lost to a rookie head coach (Joseph).
Carolina might get a rude awakening from the Bills in Week 2 because the 49ers were not much of a test and Carolina was able to not look sharp and still control things. The Bills aren't as sloppy as the 49ers.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Christian McCaffrey (13-47-0, 5-38-0/7) looked like every average/good, smaller RB in the NFL…but, of course, was treated as and discussed as the most important player on the planet. He was fine/good here. Cam was pretty focused on getting CMC the ball whether designed plays or just simple dump-offs. They definitely have a nice on-field relationship.
I think this was the quintessential McCaffrey game – 5 catches, 85 yards combined, no TDs. Also known as, 'things Danny Woodhead did in the NFL all the time to much less fanfare'.
Jonathan Stewart (18-65-0, 2-17-1/2) had 18 carries, but McCaffrey was treated as much more important…once the Panthers got the bigger lead, they sat on the 49ers with JStew. I'm a seller of Stewart.
-- Somewhat shockingly, to me, rookie TE George Kittle (5-27-0/6) was a big part of the offensive game plan…to a degree. Several short routes with Kittle in mind on the play. Kittle got targets and catches, but didn’t have that 'it' factor to make a play after the catch. To be fair, he didn’t have great passes with which to show off any YAC skills.
Considering the sad state of fantasy TEs, and Kittle's potential after the catch…he's on the radar as someone to keep an eye on for possible sneaky TE1 usage in PPR when the BYE weeks start hitting ahead. A deep sleeper TE2 to sit on in a 12-team/16-man roster situations or deeper.
-- The 49ers had UDFA rookie RB Matt Breida (4-11-0) in the game working early in relief of Hyde. He didn’t do much. There's some potential for the 49ers to try to make Breida a Tarik Cohen type, but I don’t think Kyle Shanahan will go there…and Breida hasn't shown any excitement close to what Cohen did in the preseason.
How Raheem Mostert wasn’t the #2 RB taking carries as Breida watched, after the preseason Breida put up, is just another reason why I don’t love what I am seeing from Kyle Shanahan. I'm sure his playbook is witchcraft, but his talent assessments are not great. I have to remind all of us – he forced the team to trade up for Joe Williams who was filled with obvious flaws in his college play that any football person who spent time looking would've seen and run. I remember seeing a piece about how much study John Lynch did on Williams with Shanahan because KS loved him so – so, they actually did extra study on Williams and traded up to get him. Nice.
-- Cam Newton (14-25 for 171 yards, 2 TD/1 INT) had the type of game I'd fear if I were a Cam owner in fantasy – less than 200 yards passing and never really made an effort to run the ball. I think Cam is starting to mail it in/rely on his reputation and not put in the work to be excellent at his craft (not that he ever did). He's coasting more and more…and because he has natural talent it works enough. It won't against better talented, better-prepared teams. I still say he's got one foot out the door in the NFL and going onto other fun things he likes that don’t involve getting hit by people wanting to kill you. The moment the play falls too far/the media and fans turn…Cam will disappear into the fashion industry. He was the last of the big money rookies then signed a huge contract after that. He's set for life, in theory.
Take away throws to RBs, and Cam was 7-for-18 for 116 yards to WRs and TEs.
-- James Bradberry (6 tackles) continues to be a tackling machine among IDP cornerbacks. 5.7 tackles per game his last nine games going back to 2016.