SANTA CLARA – With Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner back in action, we were all curious to see how the Panthers' offensive line would line up at the start against San Francisco's vaunted front line.
We got a somewhat surprising answer when Taylor Moton started at left tackle and Daryl Williams started at right tackle, marking the fourth different left tackle for Carolina in seven weeks.
"It's definitely unique," left guard Greg Van Roten said.
For Moton, it was only his second ever start on the left side. The previous one came in the 2018 season opener. Williams had been at right tackle throughout his Panthers tenure before starting this season at left tackle. When Turner got hurt, Williams shifted over to right guard to take his place, and that opened the door for rookie Dennis Daley to impress at left tackle.
It was Daley who was the odd man out when the game began but by the third series, Carolina made a change, inserting Daley at left tackle and moving Moton back over to his usual right tackle spot.
"I just control what I can control. Wherever they put me, I'm going to play to the best of my ability because it's not my call who plays left tackle," Moton said. "I was prepared to play both. I didn't know how many reps each side it would work out to. But we were all prepared."
Here's what head coach Ron Rivera had to say about the plan for the O-line: "We have to make sure we work everybody in and give everybody an opportunity. That's kind of where we are."
The Panthers knew it was going to be a real challenge going up against such a talented defensive front, and Van Roten said the 49ers defensive line was "as advertised."
San Francisco recorded six of their seven sacks in the first half. Carolina came into the week allowing no more than three sacks in any of the previous six games.
"It was just a complete letdown," Van Roten said.
Daley, the sixth-round pick from South Carolina, was often matched up against second overall pick Nick Bosa, who wreaked havoc and finished with three sacks and an interception when he avoided Daley's cut block and snared Kyle Allen's screen pass.
It was a play that was emblematic of the kind of day it was for Carolina.
"It's a tall task for any tackle, left or right, young or old," Rivera said. "They got a good pass rush and it's a good football team."