49ers vs. Panthers: Live Grades and Analysis for San Francisco

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IJanuary 12, 2014

Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

In Bank of America Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers, 23-13. On the strength of Frank Gore and a ferocious defense, the 49ers were able to secure their second straight road victory in this year's postseason.

As a reward, the 49ers will have to travel to CenturyLink Field to play their divisional rivals, the Seattle Seahawks.

For the third consecutive year, the 49ers will play in the NFC Championship Game. The last team to win three consecutive conference championship games was the Buffalo Bills in 1993.

Check below for final grades and analysis.



San Francisco 49ers - 23

Carolina Panthers - 10

San Francisco 49ers Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseB-B
Run OffenseDB
Pass DefenseCA-
Run DefenseBA
Special TeamsB-B
vs. Panthers Divisional Round

Game Analysis for the San Francisco 49ers

Pass Offense: After a conservative start, the 49ers passing offense came alive in the second half. Despite not throwing an interception, Kaepernick was inefficient for the second consecutive game (15-of-28 passing). However, like last week, he made big plays when his team needed them.

Run Offense: Frank Gore is the true heart and soul of this 49ers offense. When the 49ers decided to run this offense through Gore, the game started to shift in their favor. Gore finished the game with 84 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Pass Defense: As sharp as Cam Newton was in the first half, his performance in the second half was a head-scratcher. Credit the 49ers pass rush for making it difficult, but Newton’s decision-making was questionable at best.

Run Defense: Newton led the Panthers on the ground, rushing 10 times for 54 yards. Other than that, the 49ers front seven controlled the line of scrimmage, holding DeAngelo Williams and the Panthers running backs to just 39 rushing yards.

Special Teams: After a shaky first half, the 49ers coverage unit shut down dangerous Panthers return man, Ted Ginn. The performance of the punt-blocking unit was sensational, as usual.

Coaching: The 49ers finally returned to their smashmouth principles in the second half, with Gore being the focus of the offense. The pass-run ratio was better, as well (28:34).

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 12: Perrish Cox #20 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Charlotte, North Caroli
Grant Halverson/Getty Images


First-Half Analysis for the San Francisco 49ers

Pass Offense: The 49ers put together two great drives to start this game, but settled for field goals on both. Kaepernick was rather erratic in the first half, missing several open receivers. If there is a weakness to this Panthers defense, it lies in the secondary.

Run Offense: If the 49ers want to take advantage of the Panthers suspect secondary, Gore has to be more involved. With a little more than three minutes in the half, Gore had only four carries to his name. That's unacceptable for a run-oriented offense.

Pass Defense: Aside from the deflected interception, Newton looked sharp against this 49ers secondary. He worked the short and intermediate areas of the field with precision before hooking up deep with Steve Smith for a 31-yard touchdown.

Run Defense: The Panthers didn’t get much out of their traditional I-formation runs. Instead, the Panthers have kept this 49ers defense honest using elements of the read or zone option. Newton was the leading rusher at the half.

Special Teams: If the 49ers want to win the special teams battle, they must contain Ginn. As the 49ers should know, Ginn is a game-changer on returns.

Coaching: Despite the lead, the 49ers have not looked like themselves. The pass-run ratio (24:10) was a huge issue in the first half.


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