The sun rose Tuesday and all was well in the world of the San Francisco 49ers.
They’d just completed an utter beatdown of the Los Angeles Rams in which all of the team’s units contributed. Chip Kelly’s offense avoided penalties, and the defense was suffocating.
But beware, Faithful, the time to savor that performance is now. Because the feeling won’t last.
The Niners travel across the country to Carolina to face the reigning NFC Champion Panthers in an early game Sunday. Like the Rams, the Panthers carry an impressive defensive front seven that features more than one
All-Pro. Unlike the Rams, the Panthers have a competent quarterback.
“Sometimes you’ve got a guy that’s just a runner or you’ve got a guy that’s just a thrower, it’s easy to kind of game plan for those guys,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “… Cam, that’s why he was the MVP last year — because he can do it all.”
Another development worth monitoring: If starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert continues to tuck the ball and run it when the defense ignores him, he’s going to need to learn how to get down. Or else he won’t be starting much longer.
That isn’t to say Gabbert won’t be effective, and he was apparently working on the advice of running back Carlos Hyde.
“I [told him], ‘You can run it just as good as I can run it, so don’t be afraid to pull it and go make a play,’” Hyde said. “He was pulling it and getting yards. It just puts more pressure on the defense.”
Some of that is true: It does put pressure on the defense having a mobile quarterback. Some of that is not true: Gabbert cannot run it as well as Hyde.
But what is undeniably true is that Gabbert can’t continue taking hits like the one he endured from linebacker Mark Barron on Monday night.
If he’s going to game manage the 49ers into a respectable season, Gabbert must learn when he’s had enough. Because otherwise, Colin Kaepernick will be taking the reins and won’t look back.