49ers vs Panthers Divisional Round preview
The 49ers head to Carolina as the hottest team in the NFL, winning seven straight, including a dramatic 23-20 win over the Packers in Green Bay in the Wild Card Round last week. It feels like everyone is overlooking the Panthers and their fierce defense, despite winning the NFC South at 12-4 and getting a first-round bye. Cam Newton has yet to play in the playoffs, while Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first season behind center last year.
The Panthers defense was dominant the entire regular season, but particularly in their matchup with the 49ers. Carolina went to San Francisco and beat the 49ers 10-9 on Nov. 10. It was the worst start of Kaepernick’s young career, throwing for a season-low 91 yards, an interception, and was sacked a career-high six times. It’s safe to say the Panthers defense will look to attack him once again Sunday afternoon. This time, the 49ers seek revenge with a healthy roster. Kaepernick has been stellar since that game, winning seven of eight and throwing for 12 TDs and just two picks.
Ron Rivera has done a marvelous job with his crew in Carolina this season. He could easily be the NFL Coach of the Year for the 12-4 season by the Panthers. Now, he has to play the big boys. Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the NFL and he's got the team most equipped to win on the road and in any weather conditions. Luckily, it should be a sunny day at Bank of America Stadium, just as it would if the game was in San Francisco. The 49ers are determined to get back to the Super Bowl and they won't let this inexperienced Panthers team get in their way. Expect a close game that comes down to the wire, but Frank Gore and Kaepernick will run wild in a game where the better run game takes over. The 49ers get back to the NFC Championship and get a win away from the MetLife Super Bowl.