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Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
When: 18.05 (GMT)
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While San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick aims to continue his postseason success with a much better performance than his last against Carolina, the Panthers’ Cam Newton won’t make too much of his playoff debut.
Trying for an eighth straight victory that would send them to their third consecutive NFC championship game, Kaepernick and the visiting 49ers look to avenge a regular-season loss to Newton and the Panthers on Sunday.
In perhaps the roughest of his 27 career starts, Kaepernick went 11 of 22 for a season-low 91 yards with an interception, was sacked a career-high six times and rushed for 16 during San Francisco’s 10-9 home loss to Carolina on Nov. 10. By holding the hosts to a season-low 151 yards to win their fourth straight in the series, the Panthers also cooled off a 49ers team that at the time was riding a five-game winning streak during which it averaged 34.8 points.
“We owe ’em,” Kaepernick said after he threw for 227 yards and ran for 98 during a 23-20 wild-card victory at Green Bay on Sunday.
Bucking the elements by not wearing long sleeves, Kaepernick improved to 3-1 in the postseason. He defied the bitter cold and harsh winds to complete 16 of 30 passes, including eight for 125 yards to Michael Crabtree and a key fourth-quarter 28-yard scoring strike to a well-covered Vernon Davis.
Kaepernick averaged only 32.8 rushing yards during the regular season, but he often used his legs to keep drives alive against the Packers. His 11-yard run on third-and-8 set up Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired.
Kaepernick has gained 362 yards while averaging 11.3 per run in his four postseason games.
The Panthers understand containing Kaepernick a second time likely won’t be easy, even for a defense that was second in the NFL with 301.2 yards and 15.1 points allowed per contest, while topping the league with 60 sacks. During the 49ers’ current seven-game run, Kaepernick has averaged 231.7 passing yards, thrown 11 TDs with two INTs and averaged 6.7 yards per rush while posting a 101.7 passer rating.