In interviewing Ted Ginn Jr. for this column on him that was published in Thursday's newspaper, I also asked Ginn how the current Panthers compared to the 2012 San Francisco 49ers. Ginn was the return man for those 49ers, who won the NFC and came very close to beating Baltimore in the Super Bowl.
"This Panther team is capable of the same thing, no doubt," Ginn said. "We are similar teams." He then went on to list some 49ers players from the 2012 squad and some current Panther players he thought equal each other at key positions. So, in Ginn's opinion:
San Francisco // Carolina
QB Colin Kaepernick = QB Cam Newton
RB Frank Gore = RB DeAngelo Williams
TE Vernon Davis = TE Greg Olsen
WR Michael Crabtree = WR Steve Smith
ILB Patrick Willis = MLB Luke Kuechly
Return man Ted Ginn Jr. < WR/Return man Ted Ginn Jr. (Ginn believes he is more valuable to the Panthers than he was to the 49ers since he is also being used as a wide receiver -- he already has TDs of 47 and 40 yards here -- while the 49ers had basically given up on him as a wideout).
Anyway, it's food for thought. Certainly the Panthers are only 1-2 this season and have still not shown the ability to win close games in Ron Rivera's tenure. The 49ers went 11-4-1 in 2012, then won two playoff games to take the NFC before succumbing to Baltimore. So these Panthers have a long, long way to go before being considered in the same league as that 49er squad -- but Ginn's comparisons are nevertheless interesting.