By: Barry Barnes, Founder/Senior Writer
Tale of the tape for the second half, pitched a shutout, allowed 71 totals yards, forced a takeover and got four sacks. The San Francisco 49ers’ defense demonstrated to the up and coming Carolina Panthers’ D what playoff football is all about. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick orchestrated two back-to-back long drives for touchdowns and allowed their running attack to bully the Panthers’ front seven in the fourth quarter to slow walk themselves to their third consecutive NFC Championship appearance after their win in Carolina, 23-10.
In a tightly played contest in the first half, points were important.
The Niners went up 6-0 in the first quarter, after being held by the Panther twice in the redzone. The Panthers put the first touchdown on the board early in the second quarter with 13:47 remaining, after forcing a three-and-out against the 49ers, when quarterback Cam Newton connected with returning wide receiver Steve Smith (knee) for a 31-yard scoring pass.
Shortly after the touchdown, the Panthers posted another three points to make it a 10-6 game.
With :14 second left in the first half, Kaepernick scrambled out the pocket and threw a one-yard dart to tight end Vernon Davis for a score, but the pass was ruled incomplete. After further review, the replay showed that Davis had possession with both feet down and the play was overturned for a touchdown to make it a 13-10 contest.
On the Niners’ first possession of the second half, Keapernick led the charge down the field to seal the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, and did his version of Newton’s Clark Kent/Superman revealing impersonation.
Following the 49ers’ second touchdown of the outing, the Panthers had a 8-minute drive which only result to a punt.
From there, the Panthers could not gain momentum and the 49ers impose their will for the win.
Game Notes by Courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers
- Jim Harbaugh became the first head coach since the merger in 1970 to lead his team to a conference championship in his each of his first three seasons.
- Harbaugh improved his postseason record as a head coach to 5-2 overall, which is tied for the 2nd most playoff wins by a head coach in their first three seasons in NFL history [Joe Gibbs, Was. – 6; Brian Billick, Bal. – 5; Barry Switzer, Dal. – 5].
- Harbaugh also became just the 4th coach in NFL history to win his first three road playoff games [Raymond Berry, NE; Brian Billick, Bal.; John Fox, Car.]
- The 49ers improved their all-time record to 30-19 (.612) in the postseason. San Francisco’s 30 playoff wins are tied for the 3rd most in NFL History, and their .612 win percentage is tied for the best in NFL history among teams with 25+ playoff games.
- The 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive season. Since the merger in 1970, this marks the 14th time that a team has advanced to play in the conference championship game in three consecutive seasons, and the 3rd time that the 49ers have accomplished that feat [1988-90; 1992-94; 2011-13].
- The 49ers improved their overall record to 15-7 in the Divisional round of the playoffs, and 2-4 all-time on the road in that round. The last time San Francisco won a divisional playoff game on the road before today was in a 17-14 victory at Min. (12/27/70).
- The 49ers played in their 43rd playoff game since 1980, the most in the NFL during that span.
- The 49ers won back-to-back road playoff games in the same postseason for the first time in franchise history.
- The 49ers advanced to their 13th Conference Championship Game since 1980, which is the most in the NFL during that span
- With the win against the Panthers, QB Colin Kaepernick becomes just the 4th QB in NFL history to win each of his first three playoff starts on the road [Jake Delhomme, Car.; Tony Eason, NE; Ben Roethlisberger, Pit.].
- Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yds. with 1 TD and a passer rating of 87.8. He also added 8 carries for 15 yds. and 1 TD.
- Kaepernick registered his 1st rushing TD this postseason, 4th of his postseason career, on a 4-yd. TD run.
- Kaepernick now ranks t-5 in franchise history for the most career postseason rushing TDs.
- WR Anquan Boldin tallied his 4th career 100-yd. game in the postseason, hauling 8 recepts. for 136 yds. (17.0 avg.).
- The 49ers have now had at least one 100-yd. receiver in each of the 7 postseason games under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
- RB Frank Gore had 17 carries for 84 yds. (4.9 avg.), including a 39-yd. run in the 4th qtr. Gore has now rushed for 632 yds. in the postseason, ranking 2nd in franchise history for the most rushing yds. in the postseason.
- TE Vernon Davis hauled in his 2nd TD this postseason, 7th career postseason TD, on a 1-yd TD pass from QB Colin Kaepernick.
- Davis’ 7 career postseason TDs ranks t-1st among all tight ends in NFL postseason history.
- The 49ers defense registered 5.0 sacks on Panthers QB Cam Newton.
- LB Ahmad Brooks notched 2.5 sacks on the day, setting his postseason career-high [2.0 sacks at GB (1/5/14 – NFC-WC)].
- With 6.5 career postseason sacks, Brooks now ranks t-2nd in franchise history for the most career postseason sacks.
- LB NaVorro Bowman recorded his first sack of the postseason as he sacked Newton. Bowman now has 1.5 career postseason sacks.
- LB Dan Skuta tallied his first career postseason sack, bringing down Newton in the 4th qtr.
- DT Tony Jerod-Eddie combined with Brooks on a sack of Newton. It marked Jerod-Eddie’s first postseason sack.
- LB Patrick Willis recorded his first-career postseason INT, picking of Newton. The takeaway led to a 33-yd. FG by K Phil Dawson.
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