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NFL: 49ers advance past Panthers 23-10
NFC » After being shut down two months ago, Niners solve Carolina.
First Published Jan 12 2014 05:52 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:33 pm

Charlotte, N.C. • Colin Kaepernick raced into the end zone, then pretended to rip open his shirt with both hands imitating Cam Newton’s Superman touchdown celebration.

Three years of frustration had come to a head.

At a glance

Storylines 49ers 23, Panthers 10

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws a touchdown and runs for another to lead San Francisco.

» The 49ers avenge 10-9 loss to the Panthers during the regular season.

» San Francisco will play at Seattle in next Sunday’s NFC championship.

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"Just a little shout-out," Kaepernick said.

To whom?

"I think you know the answer," Kaepernick said with a grin.

Kaepernick said he "will never forget" that he was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, 35 spots behind Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner and the top pick that season.

On Sunday, he outplayed his quarterback counterpart, throwing a touchdown pass and running for another score as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10 to advance to the NFC title game for the third straight season.

Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yards in the divisional playoff win, avenging his worst statistical performance of the season two months ago against the Panthers.

"That’s not the first, nor will it be the last time somebody does that," Newton said of Kaepernick’s copycat display before leaving the postgame podium.

Anquan Boldin had eight catches for 136 yards, and Frank Gore ran for 84 yards on 17 carries for the 49ers (14-4), who will visit Seattle next Sunday looking for a return trip to the Super Bowl.


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"I think we’re the two teams that everybody was looking at from the beginning," Kaepernick said. "It’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out game."

The 49ers will have their hands full.

San Francisco (14-4) split two games with the Seahawks this season but lost 29-3 at CenturyLink Field in September.

The 49ers were missing receiver Michael Crabtree in that lopsided loss. Crabtree only had three catches for 26 yards against Carolina, but Boldin said he drew plenty of double teams that allowed him to get open.

"That’s the great thing about our team — we have weapons all around," Boldin said. "You try to take one guy out and you still have two or three guys left who can make big plays."

The 49ers held Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on the 1-yard line in the first half.

Newton finished with 267 yards passing and had 54 yards on 10 carries, but the Panthers only found the end zone once — on a 31-yard TD strike to Steve Smith.

It was a rough playoff debut for Newton.

Linebacker Ahmad Brooks stopped Newton on a fourth-down sneak early in the second. Later, Brooks vaulted over the line and past Newton — he was called for offsides, but the 49ers showed the Panthers it wouldn’t be easy.

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