That’s where the 49ers are going. San Francisco marched into Carolina to slug it out with the Panthers and came away with a hard-fought, 23-10, victory in the NFC Divisional Playoff round.
In doing so, the 49ers picked up the proud franchise’s first ever back-to-back road playoff wins in the same postseason. The road show continues. Next up, the 49ers meet the NFC West-winning Seattle Seahawks for the all-important rubber match.
The winner advances to Super Bowl XLVIII.
“The team is excited about moving on,” Jim Harbaugh said after he became the first coach since the NFL’s 1970 merger to lead his team to a conference championship appearance in his first three seasons.
San Francisco’s third-year coach likened the postseason experience to pick-up basketball games.
“Winners stay, losers go home,” Harbaugh said. “We want to keep playing.
“Our team is excited to have that chance at the ultimate chance.”
GALLERY: 49ers-Panthers in Pictures
Only 12 teams have reached the conference championships in three consecutive seasons since 1970. Count the 49ers in that group.
“We’re doing great things with Coach Harbaugh,”
Gore, San Francisco’s all-time rushing leader, was also instrumental in the 49ers win over the Seahawks in Week 15. Gore broke off a 51-yard run in that game to set up the game-winning field goal to split the season series with the division rival.
Gore sees his team ready for the challenge of beating Seattle in their rowdy home environment.
“We’re healthy,” said Gore, who later pointed out, “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to win… we’re playing great ball.”
The 49ers were balanced on offense against the Panthers, totaling 189 passing yards and 126 rushing yards against one of the best defenses in the NFL. San Francisco also picked up 21 first downs and gave up one sack on
The protection will be key in Seattle where the home crowd takes pride in causing false-start penalties on opposing linemen and the Seahawks boast one of the best defensive line rotations in pro football. San Francisco struggled in the Pacific Northwest back in Week 2. The Seahawks won soundly 29-3. It was the lowest points scored by the 49ers all season.
“That’s in the past,” Kaepernick said. “We’ve got to get this win.”
The 49ers quarterback is right. All that matters now is the game on Sunday. Neither team will dwell on the previous two contests.
“We know it’s going to be a fight,”
Moments after the defensive co-captain made those comments, Willis’ fellow Pro Bowl cohort
“They know us. We know them,” the first-team All-Pro linebacker said. “Everything is on the line. That says it all.”