CHARLOTTE, N.C. -– The 49ers needed a big day from running back Carlos Hyde to give themselves a chance to upset the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Hyde seemed to realize that more than anybody. And he was not pleased with his performance in the 49ers' 46-27 loss to the defending NFC champions.
Hyde gained just 34 yards on 14 rushing attempts, and Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson returned Hyde's first-quarter fumble 9 yards for the game's first touchdown.
"I come off a good week, and then I perform that way, it's just unacceptable," Hyde said. "I have to get better. I have to do better. I can't put the ball on the ground.
"I wasn't patient enough today. I was a little too fast on certain runs, not letting them develop all the way. I just have to be more patient and more decisive, and get going."
The 49ers managed just three first downs on the ground, as they were never able to get their running game going.
"We felt like we could've run the ball, but we didn't," 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. "We didn't do a good job.
"That was a matchup we didn't win. We didn't win at the line of scrimmage and when you don't win at the line of scrimmage, you're not going to run the ball consistently."
The 49ers placed a lot of emphasis on blocking the Panthers' defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei, and as a result did not do a good enough job of getting to the second level to contend with linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, Kelly said. Kuechly recorded 11 tackles.
"We just got to do a better job," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "Early in the game we got in trouble because we were never able to establish the run. And that's something as an offensive line we try to pride ourselves on. They do a lot of stunts and different things with Kuechly that we really hadn't seen before."
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert also had his struggles, as he completed 17 of 36 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"I thought it was up and down," Kelly said when asked to evaluate Gabbert's performance. "He wasn't helped with the drops. But there were some plays when he could've been more accurate with the ball."
Said Gabbert, "That's a great defense. That's a talented front seven that we faced. It's tough-sledding on some days. And as the quarterback, I have to make plays on the outside. That falls on my shoulders. The receivers and I have to get on the same page throughout the entire game and get the ball down the field and get the perimeter passes going and get this offense on track."
The 49ers managed 302 total yards and converted on just four of their 14 third-down opportunities.
The Panthers committed four turnovers that led to 20 of the 49ers' points, including touchdown drives of 59 yards and 1 yard after Ted Ginn muffed a fourth-quarter kickoff at the Carolina 1-yard line.