|NFC Divisional Playoffs|
|Last 3 Games||3-0||+3.3||1-1||2-1||26.7||11.0||378.3||(6.8)||0.3||21.3||9.0||388.3||(5.9)||1.3|
|Offense (All Games)||25.2||13.6||18.1||30:29||31-139||(4.4)||15-26||58.2%||188||(7.1)||58-327||(5.7)||(13)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||22.7||11.7||19.7||30:02||27-111||(4.1)||21-34||62.5%||225||(6.7)||61-337||(5.6)||(14.8)|
|Offense Road Games||26.3||14.0||18.3||30:18||32-143||(4.5)||16-26||59.1%||185||(7)||58-328||(5.6)||(12.5)|
|Defense (All Games)||17.2||7.5||17.8||29:31||25-97||(3.8)||21-36||59.4%||218||(6.1)||61-315||(5.1)||(18.3)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||22.6||11.2||19.6||30:23||27-112||(4.1)||21-34||61.9%||229||(6.7)||62-341||(5.5)||(15.1)|
|Defense Road Games||16.7||6.1||16.8||29:42||24-88||(3.6)||21-36||58.8%||211||(5.8)||60-299||(4.9)||(17.9)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.5||0.6||1.1||0.6||13-5||37.2%||1-0||66.7%||2-47||(23)||2-20||(9)||6-50|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1||0.6||1.6||2.1||13-5||37.5%||1-0||51.5%||2-59||(24)||18-2||(9)||6-54|
|Stats For (Road Games)||0.6||0.7||1.2||0.3||13-5||39.7%||1-1||62.5%||2-43||(24.4)||3-24||(9.3)||6-49|
|Stats Against (All Games)||1.1||0.7||1.8|| ||14-5||33.8%||1-1||45.8%||3-71||(20.5)||2-20||(8.7)||6-53|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1||0.6||1.6|| ||13-5||37.8%||1-0||47.5%||2-51||(22.4)||19-2||(8.8)||6-55|
|Stats Against (Road Games)||0.8||0.8||1.6|| ||14-4||27.8%||2-1||47.1%||4-81||(20.7)||2-11||(5.6)||6-56|
|Last 3 Games||3-0||+3||1-1||1-2||22.7||12.3||299.0||(5.7)||1.0||17.7||7.3||323.0||(5.1)||1.3|
|Offense (All Games)||22.9||11.2||19.9||31:53||30-126||(4.2)||18-30||61.7%||190||(6.4)||60-316||(5.3)||(13.8)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||22.6||11.7||19.6||30:21||27-112||(4.1)||21-35||61.2%||228||(6.5)||62-341||(5.5)||(15)|
|Offense Home Games||25.9||13.1||20.2||31:46||32-129||(4.1)||17-26||65.2%||201||(7.8)||57-330||(5.7)||(12.8)|
|Defense (All Games)||15.1||6.9||17.4||28:07||22-87||(4)||23-35||66.6%||214||(6.1)||57-301||(5.3)||(20)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||22.4||11.8||19.3||30:09||27-110||(4.1)||21-35||61.5%||226||(6.5)||61-335||(5.5)||(15)|
|Defense Home Games||12.0||4.9||16.5||28:14||23-91||(3.9)||21-32||66.7%||207||(6.5)||55-298||(5.4)||(24.8)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.8||0.4||1.2||0.7||13-6||43.7%||1-1||76.9%||2-38||(21.9)||2-20||(10.6)||5-42|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1||0.6||1.6||2.1||14-5||38.8%||1-0||45.7%||2-51||(23)||20-2||(9.2)||6-56|
|Stats For (Home Games)||0.7||0.4||1.1||1.1||11-5||44.6%||1-0||66.7%||1-29||(19.2)||1-11||(7.7)||4-39|
|Stats Against (All Games)||1.2||0.6||1.9|| ||13-5||35.8%||1-0||27.3%||1-25||(22.6)||2-21||(9.3)||5-48|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1.1||0.6||1.7|| ||14-5||37.2%||1-0||41.9%||2-50||(22.8)||18-2||(8.8)||6-54|
|Stats Against (Home Games)||1.4||0.9||2.2|| ||13-4||35.6%||1-0||16.7%||1-28||(25)||2-17||(8.9)||6-53|
|Average power rating of opponents played: SAN FRANCISCO 20.6, CAROLINA 21.5|
|11/17/2013||@ NEW ORLEANS||20-23||L||3.5||W||49.5||U||22-81||17-31-115||1||23-92||30-43-295||3|
|12/15/2013||@ TAMPA BAY||33-14||W||-5||W||41||O||40-187||19-29-189||0||12-39||18-34-144||2|
|1/5/2014||@ GREEN BAY||23-20||W||-3||T||46.5||U||30-167||16-30-214||1||31-124||17-26-157||0|
|1/12/2014||@ CAROLINA|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|12/8/2013||@ NEW ORLEANS||13-31||L||3||L||47||U||23-128||22-34-111||0||17-69||30-42-304||0|
|1/12/2014||SAN FRANCISCO|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|SAN FRANCISCO: The 49ers have a big, man-blocking offensive line and frequently use either a fullback or a second tight end. The backfield is a committee, but there are plenty of touches to go around. Frank Gore is still the leader, getting a feature back workload for all intents and purposes, and Kendall Hunter will spell him in their more traditional looks. They'll also run a ton of zone read stuff for Colin Kaepernick, and will use second-year man LaMichael James in those packages more frequently. Converted defensive end Bruce Miller is strictly a blocker at fullback. Marcus Lattimore will likely have a redshirt year.
It's a lot of play-action, pistol formations and a lot of moving around for Kaepernick. His No. 1 target Michael Crabtree will be sidelined until at least December, and is more of a possession receiver, while TE Vernon Davis is going to stretch the field more often than either starting receiver. The Niners don't use a lot of three- and four-receiver looks, but they could rotate A.J. Jenkins into the game more often to provide more long speed on the outside. Mario Manningham is a question mark for the start of the season coming off torn knee ligaments. Gore takes about half their touches inside the 10 and will maintain goal line duties. They will let Kaepernick do his thing near the goal line.
The 49ers defense was truly elite last year (17.1 PPG allowed, 2nd in NFL; 294 total YPG allowed, 3rd in NFL). It might be even better in 2013 after adding CB Nnamdi Asomugha, rookie FS Eric Reid and DT Glenn Dorsey. DEs Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks) and Justin Smith are both healthy, and ILBs NaVorro Bowman (148 tackles) and Patrick Willis (120 tackles) comprise the best linebacker duo in the NFL. CB Tarell Brown (13 PD) is an underrated corner and SS Donte Whitner provides quite a wallop when making a tackle. |
|CAROLINA: New offensive coordinator Mike Shula was promoted from QB coach, so there won't be many offensive changes. Carolina uses a zone-blocking scheme in a number of looks, from spread to wishbone. Jonathan Stewart figures to lead the RB committee in carries, with DeAngelo Williams in a No. 2 role and Mike Tolbert splitting time at halfback and fullback. They use a lot of zone read options with Cam Newton, who could very well lead the team in rushing again as Shula is committed to letting his star pupil make plays.
This is a vertical passing game that works off the threat of the run. Shula will continue to make it a point to feed Steve Smith any time he's in single coverage. Smith still does most of his work downfield. Flex TE Greg Olsen serves as essentially a No. 2 receiver, working up the seam most of the time but also coming back on some checkdowns in the middle of the field. They started to work in Brandon LaFell last year as a catch-and-run guy, and he figures to kick inside when they increasingly go three-wide with field-stretcher Domenik Hixon outside. The red zone will continue to be where Newton takes over. He had nearly half the team's rushing attempts inside the 10 last year, and he and Tolbert essentially split goal line chances. When they throw, Olsen figures to be the No. 1 target.
This defense will need another year or two before becoming an above-average unit. LB Luke Kuechly led the NFL with 164 tackles as a rookie, and the Panthers drafted two large DTs in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short who will be great down the road. But although no Carolina player had more than two interceptions in 2012, the team did nothing to bolster its secondary. The best cover men are underwhelming CBs Josh Norman and Josh Taylor, and top SS Haruki Nakamura has no business being a starter in the NFL.|
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER PRO FOOTBALL PREVIEW (SAN FRANCISCO-CAROLINA) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
(UPDATES Smith's status)
*49ers-Panthers Preview* ========================
By JEFF MEZYDLO STATS Senior Writer
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.
"Our defensive ends can't get too far past the quarterback or he takes off and it gives him huge lanes," said Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who took down Kaepernick for two of his three sacks this season. "It's important that everyone stays in their lanes and when someone does get out of their lane we have to cover that up quickly."
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.
"I expect the young man to come out and play well," said Ron Rivera, the once-embattled Carolina coach who will guide the Panthers to their first playoff appearance in five seasons after going 12-4 to win the NFC South.
"All you have to do is watch the way he has played down the stretch," Rivera added.
Kaepernick also will have a stronger supporting cast this time.
Crabtree, who missed the first meeting with the Panthers while recovering from a serious Achilles injury, has 28 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns in his last four postseason games. Davis, who left that contest early with a concussion, has 24 receptions for 583 yards with six TDs in six career postseason contests.
Frank Gore was held to 66 yards on 20 carries last weekend, but scored a TD for the fourth straight postseason game.
"It's a team game and it's going to take a little bit from everybody," Crabtree said. "I think we got those key players."
So do the Panthers, none more important than Newton.
After a sub-standard follow-up to his stellar 2011 rookie season, Newton bounced back in 2013 to set career highs in touchdown passes (24), completion percentage (61.7) and passer rating (88.8) while also rushing for 585 yards and six scores. He's helped the Panthers win 11 of 12, leading four game-winning drives during that span.
Now, he will try to push aside the hype of his first playoff experience to help Carolina end a two-game postseason slide. The Panthers are seeking their first playoff victory since a 29-21 win at Chicago on Jan. 15, 2006 in the divisional round.
"You don't want to be overthinking things," Newton said. "I have yet to experience a playoff game, but I know the atmosphere will be hectic to say the least."
Newton, however, must improve after Carolina's offense was held to 17 or fewer points in two of the past four games. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes for 330 yards with three TDs and two INTs in the last two, but beat New Orleans and Atlanta.
"I need to be better, not missing throws that I'm capable of making," said Newton, who went 16 of 32 for 169 yards with an interception at San Francisco (13-4) this season.
Newton hopes to have receiver Steve Smith back after he injured his left knee against the Saints and missed the regular-season finale against the Falcons. Though Smith has not caught more than six passes or recorded more than 69 receiving yards in a game in 2013, he has seven touchdowns in eight career postseason contests.
Smith said Friday that his knee feels "fine" and hopes to be ready to play Sunday.
"I will be all right. I should be OK," he said.
Smith caught six passes for 63 yards Nov. 10 against the 49ers, who have outscored their last seven opponents 182-114.
Carolina has posted a 200-84 scoring advantage while winning seven straight home games since a 12-7 season-opening loss to Seattle.
The Panthers last made the playoffs in the 2008 season, also finishing 12-4 to win the South and earn a first-round bye before losing 33-13 to Arizona. Taking the next step after a stellar regular season will again be the focus for Carolina.
"It is one of the goals you set for yourself and for your team," Rivera said. "We accomplished that first one (by winning the division) but there is a lot more left to go."
|Last Updated: 9/22/2014 3:12:25 AM EST|