It wasn't a great day for Cam Newton, as he couldn't find the end zone, and managed to find the hands of a 49er's cornerback on one occasion. Newton was 16-for-32 and finished with 169 passing yards. However, it wasn't a terrible day for him either as he delivered when he needed to and moved the ball down the field. Newton himself wasn't entirely to blame for this lackluster performance (see Offensive Line). Still, he's going to need to step it up a little if he wants to beat the Patriots next week.
Running Backs: B
DeAngelo Williams scored the game's only touchdown from 27 yards out, and Jonathan Stewart also helped keep the chains moving, although he did fumble in the closing minutes. Luckily, it was recovered by fellow back Mike Tolbert. Like last week, there was really nothing dazzling about the Panthers' rushing game, but they did what they had to do to help the team win.
Wide Receivers: B
If your quarterback isn't having a great day, then your receivers probably aren't having a great day as well. Steve Smith was a leader once again as he hauled in 6 passes for 63 yards, and Brandon LaFell also contributed, catching 4 balls for 48 yards. All in all, nothing stellar about this one.
Offensive Line: C+
After a fairly easy game against the Falcons, it's possible these guys were just overwhelmed by San Francisco's high-caliber defense. Whatever the case, they still allowed 4 sacks and 8 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. If the Panthers wish to continue their winning streak, there can be no excuses. The O-Line needs to do its job, or the rest of the offense will struggle.
Defensive Line: A-
Three and-a-half sacks and 5 tackles-for-loss made this a pretty nice game for the defensive line. In addition to holding Frank Gore to 82 yards on 16 carries, the line also did a nice job shutting down Colin Kaepernick, who has always been a threat to scramble. It will be interesting to see how much pressure these guys can put on Tom Brady next week.
I honestly didn't think that Luke Kuechly would be able to top last week's performance. Evidently, I thought wrong: 11 tackles and a sack puts him at the top of the leader board yet again. If this guy keeps it up, who knows what he (and the Panthers) can achieve? #MVKuechly is really starting to have a nice ring to it.
If the secondary shut down Matt Ryan last week, they foreclosed on Colin Kaepernick. He was held to 91 passing yards and Drayton Florence came up with a clutch pick in the last minute to seal the victory. Tom Brady is probably going to give these guys one of their biggest tests of the year, but it's a test they should be able to pass if they "study" hard enough.
Special Teams: A-
Graham Gano missed his first field goal of the year, but redeemed himself by hitting the game winner from 53 yards out. Brad Nortman had another solid performance, averaging 45.7 yards per punt. Ted Ginn averaged about 21 yards returning both kickoffs and punts. On the other side of the ball, the Panthers allowed just 11.7 yards per punt return and 18 yards per kickoff return. The Panthers' special teams are a lot more crucial to their success than most people realize.