The second time around went a lot better for the 49ers.
They were 10-9 home losers to the Panthers during the regular season and gained just 151 yards while picking up 10 first downs on the way to that defeat. Sunday’s game in Carolina didn’t bear much resemblance to that one as the Niners rolled to a 23-10 win behind an offense that put together three long scoring drives in the second half to turn a 10-6 deficit into a 23-10 victory. It left coach Jim Harbaugh feeling pretty good about himself and his football team after booking a third trip to the NFC Championship Game in as many years.
“You’re very proud of your team when they do that — when you go out on the road and in the playoff game and beat another team that’s a very good football team in their stadium,” Harbaugh said, via the Sacramento Bee. “Yes, it does make you feel like a strong, mighty man.”
It was a methodical, physical performance that allowed the 49ers to take the Panthers’ best shots in the first half and then deliver bigger ones in response. The same will be necessary in Seattle next Sunday in the this season’s third round of what’s become the NFL’s most spirited rivalry.