Niners looking to stay on track at struggling Panthers

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ESSENTIAL GAMES: 49ers (1-2) at Panthers (1-3) at Bank of American Stadium, at 1:05 pm (PT). TV: CBS. Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Charles Davis (color commentary), Evan Washburn (sideline reporting).

ODDS: 49ers -6.5. OVER/UNDER: 40.

NEXT NEXT: Panthers lead 13-8. FINAL MEETING: 49ers won 51-13 on October 27, 2019.

After a bounce-back win over the Rams on Monday Night Football, the 49ers begin a two-game East Coast road swing with the Panthers and try to get back above .500.

Considered a title contender, the Niners had two stunning road losses to start the season, to the Bears and Broncos. But in some seasons settling in with Jimmy Garoppolo as their quarterback, San Francisco had a better rhythm against the Rams.

It also helps if you get the ball to Deebo Samuel and let him make a big play. The offensive superstar has a game on Monday and will be playing less than 80 miles from his hometown of Inman, South Carolina.

The story of the season, however, has to be the 49ers’ defense. San Francisco allowed just 46 points through four games and even scored a touchdown of their own against the Rams, when emerging standout safety Talanoa Hufanga returned an interception for a touchdown. Although the offense has struggled, the defense looks like it will keep the 49ers in games all season.

Carolina is a team that could trade for Garoppolo this offseason. Instead, they got Baker Mayfield from Cleveland. It hasn’t worked out well so far, and both Mayfield and head coach Matt Rhule have faced some harsh criticism for the Panthers’ 1-3 start.

Follow along with our reporters Cam Inman and Jerry McDonald, columnist Dieter Kurtenbach and other analysts who give their thoughts on the game.

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