Carolina Panthers

Can Ben Boulware offer San Francisco 49ers some Carolina Panthers intel?

Former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware failed to make the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. Now he’s on the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers, who host the Panthers Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware failed to make the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent. Now he’s on the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers, who host the Panthers Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware dreamed of being there for the Carolina Panthers’ season opener Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California.

Dreams can come true, just not always by the path originally charted.

Boulware signed with the Panthers after he was not selected in April’s NFL draft. Coach Ron Rivera expressed enthusiasm that Boulware chose to try to make the team up the road from the school where he helped win the national championship in January.

Boulware didn’t make the cut in Charlotte, either for the regular squad or the practice squad. Wednesday, the 49ers added Boulware to their practice squad.

Was Boulware around the Panthers long enough to provide the 49ers with some inside information? Remember, the buzzword for the Panthers this preseason has been an “evolving” offense, particularly with the addition of versatile rookie running back Christian McCaffrey.

Did Boulware see enough of the Panthers installation sessions the past few weeks to give the 49ers coaches any edge going into this opener?

Charlotte Observer Panthers beat writers Joe Person and Jordan Rodrigue make their points as to whether rookie running back Christian McCaffrey should be used as a punt returner.

“I’m sure that our defensive coordinator might ask him a question or two. I haven’t gotten the chance to do it yet,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said during a conference call with Charlotte media Wednesday.

“It’s always nice to have a guy who has some familiarity with them. But I’ve done this too long, and I’ve learned that if you rely on that stuff too much you usually are getting set up pretty bad, and it’s never worked good for me.”

Most of the Panthers’ preparation specific to the 49ers would have come after Boulware was waived Saturday.

Boulware probably got as much media attention as any undrafted free agent in Panthers history. That was partially his coming off Clemson’s national championship, and partially his colorful, quotable nature.

Boulware, who wore Capri pants to the ACC football media days in 2016, jokingly called himself “one of the hottest ugly guys” on the Panthers and challenged defensive tackle Star Lotulelei for the Panthers’ most impressive beard.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell

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