Leave it to two of the NFL’s most potent offenses in October to engage in a defensive struggle now that we're in November.
The 49ers (6-3) fell to the Panthers (6-3), 10-9, on Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park, ending San Francisco’s five-game winning streak.
An electric offense – combined with an opportunistic defense – had been a significant reason why the team had rattled off victories entering its bye week. Only one of those two ingredients was present on Sunday. The unit had scored at least 30 points in each win during the streak but only managed three first-half field goals from
"It's unacceptable," said wideout
The Panthers offense, which entered the game scoring 32.5 points per game over its own four-game string of victories, stalled throughout the first half. Quarterback Cam Newton, for one, completed just 5 of his first 17 passes entering halftime.
Carolina managed the game’s lone touchdown when one of its three able running backs, DeAngelo Williams, ran like a man possessed on a 27-yard score on the first play following the two-minute warning. It was the longest rushing touchdown San Francisco’s defense had yielded this season.
Dawson’s connections from 46 yards, 42 yards and 25 yards was all there was on the other side of the ball. The veteran kicker has executed 12 of his 15 attempts this season. The second of his three tries was a result of safety
The defense benefited from the return of outside linebacker
Brock, whose four picks represent a team-high this season, returned the ball 42 yards to the original line of scrimmage, Carolina’s 24-yard line. From there, San Francisco turned a 14th straight turnover into points – this time, Dawson’s 25-yard three-pointer.
The 49ers lost tight ends
Injuries kept coming. Defensive tackle
Carolina ended that drive with an errant 48-yard field goal attempt by Graham Gano, but it wasn’t the team’s last opportunity to take its first lead. Gano nailed a 53-yarder with 10:05 showing on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
Closing out the win wasn't easy. Newton fumbled the snap but recovered it at the start of a 3rd-and-2 play with less than two minutes remaining. The Panthers punted the ball away with 1:10 left on the game clock.
Armed with one timeout, Kaepernick was sacked for a six-yard loss on the first play of the final drive. On the next play, he threw an interception to Florence.
"Moving the ball wasn't easy for us today," Jim Harbaugh said. "I thought there were plays to be made, and (Kaepernick) made some really good ones. And we all put our fingerprints on that. Don't feel good as a coach. It's not a good feeling when you don't prevail, especially when you had multiple chances to get it done."
San Francisco visits New Orleans for its Week 11 game.