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Rivera, Panthers not sleeping on 49ers

CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera has a game plan for scouting the San Francisco 49ers, who kick off their season against the Los Angeles at 10:20 p.m. EST on Monday Night Football.

"Maybe I'll take a nap," Rivera said.

No, Rivera isn't sleeping on the 49ers. Just the opposite, actually.

Rivera wouldn't typically stay up after midnight on a day like Monday when the schedule allows him to head home early, but he values the opportunity to watch Carolina's next opponent live.

"Maybe I'll take a nap, get up, watch it, then go back to sleep," Rivera said. "It's exciting to watch it live. It gives a different perspective. You can try to guess and figure out what's going to happen, whereas watching it later, you already know the outcome so you already kind of know how things are going to turn out."

While Panthers players had the weekend off after opening the season Thursday in Denver, Rivera and the rest of the coaching staff spent Friday and Saturday preparing for the 49ers, who are led by first-year head coach Chip Kelly. The unorthodox Kelly spent the previous three seasons as Eagles head coach, and the Panthers faced the Eagles in the regular season in 2014 and 2015 and in the preseason in 2013.

"We know his Philadelphia history – that's what we watched some Friday and Saturday along with their preseason games," Rivera said. "Tonight is important for us, though. We'll try to watch as much of it as we can."

Kelly was known for his fast-break offense in Philadelphia, a unique challenge that defensive coordinator Sean McDermott knows all about.

"Familiarity is important. Having gone against Coach Kelly multiple times now, I think that helps us," McDermott said. "It helps us as a staff, it helps the players that have gone against him before and his system.

"He's got a great system, and he's a darn good football coach. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does and how he does things there, so we'll have our work cut out for us."

Some players, like tight end Greg Olsen, have given themselves a homework assignment for tonight.

"Preseason, as far as personnel and all that, is fine but you don't really get a good idea or a great feel of what teams want to do until they really bust out their entire package," Olsen said. "Tonight will tell us a lot more, and we'll get started on them first thing Wednesday."

The players have Tuesday off, making it reasonable with perhaps a caffeine boost for them to stay up for the 49ers-Rams game. Sunday, tight end Ed Dickson was among the players taking in much of the Week 1 action.

"I watched it all day. The hardest part was knowing we had to wait another week to play again," Dickson said. "I watched some of the teams we'll play against – Tampa Bay and Atlanta, the Saints and Raiders. There were a lot of close games, and I learned a lot about a lot of teams. A lot of teams are hungry this year. We've got to be hungrier than those teams."

As for watching the 49ers in their late-night slot?

"I'll stay up and watch a little bit of it, get a first glimpse at them," Dickson said. "But it's not about what they do; it's about what we do."

Rivera didn't devulge whether he'd take his "cat nap" in the new "Riverboat Ron" T-shirt he sported Monday afternoon, a shirt currently on sale that will benefit the Humane Society of Charlotte.

Rivera has begrudgingly embraced the moniker – "It was the brainchild of my wife," he said. "I've got to live with it." Still, he wouldn't be opposed to an "Analytical Ron" shirt.

"I hope there is one," he said, "with a pencil behind his ear, a slide rule, a compass, protractor and all that good stuff."

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