Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera expects to see a better performance from Colin Kaepernick this time around.
Kaepernick posted one of the worst performances of his career as the Panthers earned a 10-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10 at Candlestick Park.
With the Panthers set to host the 49ers this Sunday in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs, Rivera expects to see a much different performance from the 49ers quarterback.
“I don’t expect that again,” Rivera said, via Steve Reed of the Associated Press. “I expect the young man to come out and play well. He’s a good football player and he showed it (Sunday) night against Green Bay.”
Kaepernick threw for just 91 yards on 11 completions in the first meeting in November. His passer rating of 42.0 was the second lowest of the season, trailing only the three interception performance against the Seattle Seahawks (20.1 rating) in Week 2. Michael Crabtree was still unavailable while recovering from an Achilles injury and Vernon Davis was knocked out of the game with a concussion. It left an already thin 49ers’ receiver corps devoid of reliable options.
Crabtree and Davis are expected to play Sunday and the San Francisco offense has taken several strides forward with the pair together in the lineup. Crabtree caught eight passes for 125 yards in San Francisco’s win over Green Bay this weekend, more than Kaepernick totaled against the Panthers in their first meeting.
“All you have to do is watch the way he has played down the stretch,” Rivera said of Kaepernick. “We caught them at a good time and it turned out in our benefit.”
The venue will also be different as the Panthers get to host the return engagement. The 49ers are 12-2 over their last 14 games while the Panthers are 11-1 over their last 12. With two strong defensive units, the game should remain close throughout with the victor earning a bid to the NFC Championship game.