Week five of the NFL season is here and there are many players to watch. The San Francisco 49ers are set to face the Carolina Panthers. After a big win against the LA Rams, the 49ers are in hopes to move on to a 3-2 record and maintain their lead in the NFC West. Here are the players to watch against the Panthers.
49ers defensive end, Nick Bosa and Panthers quarterback, Baker Mayfield, has an interesting history. In 2017, the Oklahoma Sooners beat the Ohio State Buckeyes. The quarterback for the Sooners was Baker Mayfield and across from him was Ohio State Defensive End, Nick Bosa. After the game, Mayfield planted an Oklahoma flag in the center of the O on Ohio State’s field. In 2019, the 49ers faced the Clevland Browns. At the time, the Browns’ quarterback was none other than Mayfield. Bosa got a sack on the quarterback and celebrated by pretending to wave a flag, mimicking Mayfield.
Since the two last faced, one has seen success and the other was traded. This season, Nick Bosa has six sacks, first in the league, and 12 solo tackles. In 2019 against the Panthers, Bosa had his one and only interception. Despite the Panthers quarterback being Kyle Allen, not Mayfield, Bosa has not had an interception since and will be hungry for another. Bosa can be named on a players to watch list every week, but going against Mayfield it will be a fun watch.
Last week against the LA Rams, linebacker Fred Warner had a ball thrown right into his hands but he could not secure it. The ball was ruled incomplete, rather than an interception. When looking at the angle, there is a good chance that play could have been the team’s second pick-six of the night. While there is now no way of knowing what could have been, there is a sign of hope that his first interception of the season is coming. According to a tweet by 49ers reporter David Lombardi, the Carolina Panthers are ranked 21 in completion percentage.
Warner has totaled 25 combined tackles this season and one pass deflection. Warner is known as the quarterback on the defense, and a big part of keeping the energy high. With him being the one with the headset in his helmet, Warner is the one who tells everyone where to be. Mayfield has thrown three interceptions so far, and Warner will definitely be looking to make that number higher. With his need for a big play this week, Warner is amongst the players to watch this weekend.
Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has not quite made a name for himself this season. Aiyuk did however have a touchdown against the Denver Broncos, the only touchdown of the game. Despite not having big plays yet this season, he is almost always getting open. The Carolina Panthers have had a decent pass defense; however, it can be expected that the Panthers will put their best cornerback, Jaycee Horn, on Deebo Samuel. This will give Aiyuk more chances to get receptions this season.
What has gone unnoticed is Aiyuk’s ability to block. On Samuel’s 57-yard touchdown, Aiyuk made a key block on the last line of defense. While it cannot be said that Samuel would not have been able to break the tackle, it definitely made it easier on Samuel. Aiyuk is on the list of players to watch due to his ability to block, and his chance to break away from the defense for key plays.
Jeff Wilson Jr.
49ers running back, Jeff Wilson Jr has just one touchdown this season coming from a 32-yard rush against the LA Rams. The 49ers have had a hard time building momentum with their run game. Wilson totals 255 rushing yards and averages 4.5 yards per attempt. The 49ers have only had four rushing touchdowns this season, one coming from a QB Sneak by Jimmy Garoppolo. The team will be looking to increase that number this week, which is why Wilson is on the list of players to watch.
Players to Watch: Honorable Mentions
The following players may have not made my list for this week’s players to watch, but they still have a chance to be huge difference-makers against the Panthers.
With how Hufanga has been playing, he should be an obvious player to watch this matchup with the inaccuracy of Baker Mayfield. Perhaps another pick-six?
Another player that is expected to be on a players to watch list each week. It will be interesting to see how he plays against Jaycee Horn if that is who he is matched up against.
As of now, according to a tweet by 49ers writer Matt Maiocco, wide receiver Jauan Jennings was limited at practice with an ankle injury. In the case that he does not play, the rookie wide receiver is someone to keep an eye on. Jennings is a big third-down receiver who converted multiple third-downs last week. If Jennings is out, look for Gray, who did not play last week, to take over that spot with his speed.
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