49ers Up Against Even Sadder Carolina

By Joe Kukura
|  Saturday, Oct 23, 2010  |  Updated 11:46 AM PDT
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In Pictures: Jerry Rice Jersey Retired

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SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 14: Cedrick Wilson #82 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a pass interference against Chris Gamble #20 of the Carolina Panthers at Monster Park on November 14, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

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To Carolina fans, the San Francisco 49ers' season of coaching turmoil and blown leads and bad quarterbacking would seem like a dream year.

The Carolina Panthers have still not won a game, a week out from mid-season. This past Sunday against the Bears, the Panthers started a rookie at quarterback (Jimmy Clausen) and two rookie wide receivers. They have been outscored this season 110-52.

Can we get them back in the NFC West like they used to be?

The 49ers face the Panthers Sunday in another early game, and are surely aware that the Panthers' prospects are looking up slightly.

Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith is fully recovered from a bum ankle, and will return from sitting out last week's game.

"We're 0-5, so there aren't a lot of guys making plays," Smith told NFL.com. "We've got to change that up, for everybody."

Smith is the only Carolina receiver to catch a touchdown this year.

The 49ers will not have the benefit of facing rattled Panthers rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Last season's Cinderella QB Matt Moore returns from the bench for the Panthers.

Even though the two teams used to be in the same division, they haven't played one another since 2007. And that's why you see the outdated Niners uniforms in the Carolina-San Francisco game picture above.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks 10 a.m. Sunday NFL games are a lot better when celebrating with 3,000 Bloody Marys.

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