CHARLOTTE – In a defensive slugfest like the one the Panthers and 49ers waged on Sunday, the field position battle became all the more critical.
And it was the Carolina special teams that played a significant role in the 10-9 victory.
"Our special teams contributors are taking an awful lot of pride in that unit," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Very pleased with what we got from that group."
The coverage units then made two impact plays in the fourth quarter to keep field position in Carolina's favor.
On the kickoff following Gano's 53-yard field goal, linebacker
"Those are huge," Rivera said. "It's hidden yardage that people don't realize. When you can keep a team pinned down, it is very hard to go 99 yards or 90 yards or 80 yards to score points. That's very important."
TAKEN AWAY: The Panthers defense thought it had come away with a red zone takeaway midway through the second quarter, but the officials ruled otherwise.
On second down from the Carolina 6-yard line, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis reeled in a pass in the flat and safety
Rivera challenged the ruling on the field of an incomplete pass, and the call was upheld after review.
"They didn't think it was a football move after he had caught it," Rivera said. "It is part of the game. It is all interpretation. That's how they interpreted it.
"As much as I disagree, it is part of the game. It's the element that we have to accept."
CONFIDENT IN CHANDLER:
His highlight play came on the game's only touchdown, as Chandler's block sealed a big hole for
When asked if he's confident in Chandler moving forward, Rivera responded, 'Oh yeah.'
"We'll see how Chris Scott is, but Nate did some really nice things."
Rivera was also pleased to see recently signed lineman
"Having a veteran guy like that getting back into football shape is important. He is a very nice security blanket for us in terms of a center/guard combination," Rivera said. "Very pleased having Geoff back. It was good to see him on the football field."