49ers outclass Panthers in playoffs
49ers outclass Panthers in playoffs

Colin Kaepernick ran for one touchdown and threw for another to spark the San Francisco 49ers over the Carolina Panthers 23-10 on Sunday in the NFL playoffs.

Kaepernick completed 15-of-28 passes for 196 yards and ran seven times for 15 yards as the 49ers shook off a slow start and avenged a 10-9 regular-season home loss to the Panthers last November.

San Francisco, which lost last year's Super Bowl to Baltimore, advanced to the National Conference championship game next Sunday at Seattle, with that winner earning a berth in Super Bowl 48.

The Seahawks beat the 49ers 29-3 at Seattle on September 15 but the 49ers avenged that loss with a 19-17 victory in a December 8 rematch at San Francisco.

Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers' coach, became the first coach in the Super Bowl era to reach the conference finals in each of his first three years guiding a team.

Denver will play host to San Diego in an American Conference playoff game later on Sunday with the winner to face New England next Sunday to decide the other berth in the February 2 NFL championship spectacle at suburban New York.

New England defeated Indianapolis 43-22 and Seattle downed New Orleans 23-15 in playoff matchups Saturday.

San Francisco took a 6-0 lead at Carolina on Phil Dawson field goals of 33 and 49 yards in the first quarter.

But Carolina answered on Cam Newton's 31-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith on the run in the back left corner of the end zone and the Panthers stretched their lead to 10-6 on Graham Gano's 24-yard field goal.

The 49ers responded with a 12-play, 80-yard march capped by Kaepernick's 1-yard touchdown toss to Vernon Davis in the back right corner of the end zone.

The play was originally ruled no catch because Davis had not landed with two feet in bounds but a video review overturned the call, declaring Davis had dragged his left foot in the field of play before tumbling out of bounds.

That gave the 49ers a 13-10 half-time lead and they stretched it to 20-10 just 6:07 into the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kaepernick.

Dawson added a 34-yard field goal with 7:41 remaining and the 49ers kept Carolina scoreless the rest of the way.

The West Australian

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