On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Charlotte to battle the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. The 49ers got revenge for their Week 10 loss at home against the Panthers by beating them in their own stadium 23-10. The 49ers played a tough game and were able to stay calm and out-physical the already physical Panthers team. The 49ers showed their experience playing in the postseason, while the Panthers showed their inexperience. With this win, the 49ers are one step closer to their goal, and advance to the NFC Championship for the third consecutive year.
Another playoff game and another great game for Anquan Boldin. All week, the attention was focused on Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis since they were both missing from the Week 10 matchup. The 49ers and Anquan Boldin took advantage of that. Boldin caught 136 yards on eight catches in Sunday’s playoff game. The Panthers’ defense thought they could intimidate and out-physical one of the most intimidating and physical receivers in the league. That didn’t work out so well for them. Boldin gets a massive amount of credit for the Ravens’ Super Bowl run last year. Now this year, he’s getting a massive amount of credit for the entire 49ers’ season. And he deserves every bit of it.
After a shaky first half, the defense locked down in the second half. They shut out Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense for the entire second half. The whole defense played great, but most notably the linebackers. The linebacker corps consisting of Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, Dan Skuta, and Aldon Smith combined for 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception. Newton and the rest of the Panthers’ offense felt the effects of being smothered by the 49ers’ defense. Cam Newton was sacked five times and threw two interceptions, and the Panthers’ running backs only ran for 33 yards on 13 carries. The defense stopped the Panthers on the goal line twice in the game, including one turnover on downs. With only allowing no points in the second half and 10 for the entire game, it’s apparent 49ers had the better defense this game.
Colin Kaepernick had another good game. He threw one touchdown and ran in another one on the ground. After a terrible game the first time they played, Kaepernick looked poised to repay the Panthers’ defense, and he did.
The 49ers continue to do the same thing that they’ve been doing throughout the season. They’re settling. They’re unable to find the end zone when they’re in the other team’s side of the field. They’ve gotten lucky the past two games, but they need to be able to score touchdowns. If they keep leaving points on the field, it’s eventually going to come back and haunt them. Even if they get past the Seahawks next week, both the Patriots and the Broncos will make them pay if they’re just kicking field goals when they get deep into their opponent’s territory. If the offense can somehow figure out how to score touchdowns when they have the opportunity to, coupled with their defense, they could beat any team left in the playoffs.