Team Comparison: Previewing Panthers at 49ers

Football is back, and to celebrate the occasion, the San Francisco 49ers host the Carolina Panthers for the season opener on Sunday. Both the Panthers (6-10) and 49ers (2-14) are looking to rebound following underwhelming seasons in 2016.

Here's a quick breakdown of the 49ers Week 1 matchup.

Series Highlights

Sunday marks the third consecutive season that the 49ers will begin the regular season at home at Levi's® Stadium.

San Francisco is 21-12-1 in regular season home openers.

San Francisco trails the overall series against Carolina, 8-12. The two teams met in Week 2 of last season in Carolina where the 49ers fell to the Panthers, 46-27.

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Check out these 49ers posters placed at various Bay Area hot spots.

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Preseason Notes

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers have won their last season openers since 2011, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Passing: Quarterback Pierre Garçon will make his 49ers debut. Last season with the Chicago Bears, Hoyer threw for 1,445 yards, six touchdowns, and zero interceptions in six games.

Rushing:Entering into his fourth season with the 49ers, Pierre Garçon returns as San Francisco's lead back. Hyde rushed for a career-high 988 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. His three touchdown catches were the most by any 49ers running back since Frank Gore in 2009.

Receiving:San Francisco enters 2017 with a clean slate of receivers. Ten-year veteran Pierre Garçon is coming off of his second career 1,000-yard season after totaling 79 receptions for 1,041 yards in 2016 with the Washington Redskins. Under Kyle Shanahan in 2013 with Washington, Garçon led the NFL in receptions (113).

Defense:The 49ers took defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Thomas totaled 11.5 sacks during his three-year career at Stanford. Foster had 222 tackles and eight sacks in his four-year career at Alabama.

Special Teams:Undrafted free agent Victor Bolden Jr. has made a name for himself on special teams. Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Bolden scored on a 92-yard punt return. He ran back a kick 104 yards for a touchdown earlier in the preseason against the Denver Broncos.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers return to the site of Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Broncos, 24-10. In what many have referred to as their "Super Bowl hangover", the Panthers ended their ensuing season at the bottom of the NFC South.

Passing: Quarterback Cam Newton has been recovering from a partial tear in his rotator cuff in Week 14 of 2016. Newton is coming off of his lowest completion rate of his seven-year career (52.9). Playing just one series in four preseason games, Newton will make his return against the 49ers.

Rushing: The Panthers spent the offseason providing ground support for Newton, drafting running back Christian McCaffery in the first-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Stanford product was as advertised in the preseason and will be an immediate focal point of Carolina's offense.

Receiving: After missing his entire 2015 campaign with an ACL tear, Kelvin Benjamin returned in 2016 and put up 63 catches, 941 yards and seven touchdowns. Through three preseason games, Benjamin has totaled 106 yards on six receptions and two touchdowns.

Defense: Defensive end Julius Peppers returned to Carolina after spending the last seven seasons with the Bears and Green Bay Packers. He joins Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Kawann Shortin on a defensive line that only allowed just 3.9 yards per carry last season.

Special Teams: Carolina has two kickers on the roster. The Panthers held onto veteran Graham Gano and rookie Harrison Butker on the 53-man roster. Gano is currently listed ahead of Harrison on the unofficial depth chart.

Preseason Team Comparisons

Offensive Comparisons

Defensive Comparisons

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