The Panthers' defense stopped San Francisco on the 49ers' second drive around midfield and have the ball inside their own 25 as the first quarter ends.
San Francisco picked up two straight third-down conversions before failing on a third. Steve Smith, in a surprise, then dropped back to return the punt for Carolina, but that didn't work out that well.
Smith had to fair-catch a high punt -- and dropped it. But he wrestled the ball back and so Carolina took over at its own 16 on its third possession.
The score remains San Francisco 7, Carolina 3. The stadium looks to be maybe two-thirds full, although the game is officially a sellout and the weather is beautiful.