Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


Five key 49ers players against the Panthers during Week 8

Oct 26, 2019 at 12:02 AM0


Here are five key San Francisco 49ers players to watch in the Week 8 match up against the Carolina Panthers.

Kwon Alexander (Outside Linebacker) - The way Alexander has played in the first seven games, you would not have known he tore his ACL last season. The former LSU star, who is second on the team with 30 total tackles has not shown any setbacks from his season-ending injury last season with his sideline-to-sideline hustle.

The 49ers have not gone up against a running back like Christian McCaffrey."Run CMC" is a match up nightmare when a linebacker lines up on him in the open field and has dangerous breakaway speed. Though the two have played each other when Alexander was with Tampa Bay, the former Stanford star is playing on an MVP level which may have to step Alexander's game up as well.

Mitch Wishnowsky (Punter) - This game could be a field-position battle and the punters on both teams rank 28th in the league with a punt average of 43.8 yards. "Big Hit Mitch" was a 2016 Ray Guy Award winner when he was at the University of Utah, was the nation's top punter as well as a three-time finalist for the award. The rookie punter will need to improve his average starting position against the Panthers.

Emmanuel Sanders (Wide Receiver) - From this point on, all eyes will be on Sanders. The Niners traded their third- and fourth-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft for the 32-year-old receiver. Sanders will need to be an immediate impact in the 49er passing game or this could be looked at as giving away draft picks.

Hoping to bring a spark to a vanilla passing game, the former SMU Mustang brings one 100 reception season, topped 1,000 yards in receiving for three seasons, two Pro Bowls, and a Super Bowl Championship in his 10-year career.

In six games with the Broncos, he has 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. The closest receiver on the 49ers roster is Marquise Goodwin with 181 yards and one score. Hopefully Sanders can bring the excitement to the offense as Richard Sherman has done for the defense.

Matt Brieda (Running Back) - In the last two games, Brieda rushed for 36 yards against the Rams and 35 yards on eight carries against the Redskins before he left with a head injury. This could be exactly what the former Georgia Southern star may need to get him back in track. The Panthers rush defense is ranked 23rd in the NFL, giving up 119 yards per game. The 49ers will need to get their running game going, and Brieda will have to spearhead the offense.

Jimmie Ward (Safety) - Since coming back from his broken finger, Ward has been very aggressive in the secondary. The 49ers' pass defense has also held quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles' Jared Goff, and Washington's Case Keenum to 100-or-fewer yards.

This week, the Panthers will start Kyle Allen at quarterback for the fifth game of the year. Though fans will travel as far as Carolina or even Texas to see Cam Newton, the former Aggie star is averaging 225 yards a game, seven touchdowns and has not thrown an interception. Many Niners fans may have been ready for him to leave, but Ward looks like he is ready to show he is going to turn the corner.
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