David Carr took over for an injured Alex Smith, but the new quarterback couldn’t do enough to avoid a 23-20 loss to the Panthers.
Falling to 1-6 hasn’t done anything to shake 49ers coach Mike Singletary’s faith in his team’s playoff chances.
On the final play of the game, the 49ers used a formation with skill position players in place of offensive linemen to facilitate lateraling but never used any during the actual play.
Both 49ers rookie offensive linemen — T Anthony Davis and G Mike Iupati — struggled on Sunday.
49ers DT Ray McDonald scored an improbable touchdown on an interception return in the fourth quarter.
Panthers QB Matt Moore recovered from that interception to throw for 308 yards and the game-tying touchdown.
Panthers rookie WR David Gettis also showed some resolve when he bounced back from dropping a potential game-tying touchdown by catching one from Moore.
WR Steve Smith returned punts for the Panthers for the first time since 2008.
Panthers CB Richard Marshall set up the winning field goal with an interception of Carr.
Panthers DE Charles Johnson knocked Smith out of the game with a sack and DT Derek Landri added a sack of Carr to the ledger in the fourth quarter.