Cam Newton

Panthers to start Kyle Allen at QB, not Cam Newton, vs. 49ers in Week 8

Panthers to start Kyle Allen at QB, not Cam Newton, vs. 49ers in Week 8

The 6-0 49ers have had the NFL's easiest schedule to date, with their six opponents combining for an 11-28 record.

Among those six teams that have fallen on the sword of Kyle Shanahan's club, the 49ers have faced quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff and Case Keenum. Of those six quarterbacks, only Mayfield and Goff have long-term futures in the NFL. Winston is on the fast track out of Tampa Bay, Dalton is on his last leg in Cincinnati, Rudolph is an unproven commodity and Keenum is ... well, Keenum.

The 49ers' opposing quarterback gauntlet won't get much tougher in Week 8 when the Carolina Panthers come to Levi's Stadium.

Cam Newton has been out since Week 2 with a foot injury. Kyle Allen has led the Panthers to four straight wins, and even though Newton has been on the mend, head coach Ron Rivera announced Monday that Allen will start Sunday against the Niners while Newton "works with the trainers."

The Texas A&M product has thrown for 901 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, leading the Panthers to wins over the Texans, Jaguars, Buccaneers and Cardinals in that span. Allen has played well in Newton's absence, not turning the ball over and letting Carolina's run game, spearheaded by Christian McCaffrey, inflict damage on their opponents.

[RELATED: 49ers, Raiders stand pat in NFL power rankings]

The 49ers' defensive line has terrorized the opposition so far this season. Through six games, the 49ers are holding opponents to 10.7 points and 223.5 yards per game, and it's unlikely they'll allow McCaffrey to beat them. 

If the Panthers plan to leave the Bay Area with a win, it'll be up to Allen's right shoulder and his line's ability to keep Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Co. off his back. 

Easier said than done.

NFL rumors: Panthers' Cam Newton likely to practice before 49ers game

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AP

NFL rumors: Panthers' Cam Newton likely to practice before 49ers game

The Carolina Panthers reportedly could have a decision to make before they play the 49ers in Week 8. 

Quarterback Cam Newton is "expected to be ready to practice after the team's bye this week," ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday night citing a league source. 

The Panthers started 0-2 with Newton under center, but turned their season around after undrafted second-year pro Kyle Allen took over. Carolina has won each of its last four games, and Allen has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Allen has been aided by running back Christian McCaffrey during that time, as McCaffrey has scored seven touchdowns and accounted for 661 yards from scrimmage over the last four weeks. 

A hobbled Newton struggled in his first two starts, and he said in a self-published video last month that he hid the extent of his foot injury. Newton, when healthy, arguably is one of the NFL's best QBs, but season-ending shoulder surgery in 2018 and his early-season foot injury have led to questions about how much he has left in the tank.

[RELATED: Staley, Witherspoon closest to return among injured 49ers] 

If he returns in Week 8, Newton will have his hands full with the 49ers' revamped defensive line. Six San Francisco d-linemen have multiple sacks this season, and the 49ers were tied for eighth in the NFL in sacks entering Monday. 

The 49ers are riding high, and San Francisco is 5-0 for the first time since 1990. In Week 7, the 49ers will play 1-5 Washington at FedEx Field before returning to Levi's Stadium to host Newton or Allen and the Panthers. 

NFL rumors: Kyle Allen could keep Panthers’ QB job, start vs. 49ers in Week 8

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Kyle Allen could keep Panthers’ QB job, start vs. 49ers in Week 8

When the 49ers return home to Levi's Stadium in Week 8, they could play against an unfamiliar quarterback. 

The Carolina Panthers reportedly will wait until Cam Newton is healthy to decide whether to start him or second-year pro Kyle Allen, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. A Panthers source told Rapoport that Carolina's eventual win Sunday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would mean "Allen likely keeps his job as Newton makes a slow and steady return to the field from his mid-foot sprain."

The Panthers are now 4-0 with Allen under center after Sunday's victory across the pond. He has completed nearly two-thirds of his passes for 901 yards and seven touchdowns, along with no interceptions. Carolina lost both of Newton's starts, and he completed 56.2 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and one interception. Newton's yards per attempt (6.4) would be the lowest of his career over the course of a full season, as would his passer rating (71.0) and QBR (23.1). 

Whether Newton is healthy or Allen continues his winning ways, Week 8 marks the beginning of a stretch in which the 49ers play some of the NFL's best and most promising QBs. From then until the end of the season, San Francisco will see 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray twice, Russell Wilson twice, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson and Matt Ryan. Drew Brees could return to the Saints lineup by the 49ers' Week 14 game in New Orleans, but Teddy Bridgewater has yet to lose any of his three starts in Brees' place. 

[RELATED: Jimmy G will embrace his role as long as 49ers win games]

The undefeated 49ers first have to worry about Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams this week before traveling to Washington to play against one of Case Keenum, Colt McCoy or rookie QB Dwayne Haskins in Week 7. 

But as long as Allen and the Panthers keep winning, Week 8 is a game on the 49ers' schedule to keep an eye on.