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Niner Talk Bonus: Top Defenses to Meet

Posted Jan 8, 2014

This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" looks at how San Francisco and Carolina's defenses could steal the show on Sunday.

This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" looks at how San Francisco and Carolina's respected defensive units will impact Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff game.

We also answered some of the other questions that didn't quite make this week's show.

The 49ers and Panthers finished the regular season ranked No. 5 and No. 2 in total defense, respectively. The defenses also combined to send six players to the Pro Bowl. When the team's met in Week 10 there was just one offensive touchdown scored in a 10-9 victory by Carolina. However, both teams have improved on offense in recent weeks.

Let's look at the defenses and other storylines in the questions below.

It's very possible. But in my honest opinion, I can definitely say there will be more than one touchdown scored in this game. I still think it will be a low-scoring game, somewhere in the mid 20s. San Francisco will have more offensive firepower this time. Michael Crabtree is coming off an 8-catch, 125-yard game against the Packers in the NFC Wild Card round. The fifth-year wideout was unavailable in the Week 10 meeting due to his Achilles injury. Elsewhere, Vernon Davis was concussed in the second quarter against the Panthers in Week 10 and was held to one catch for two yards.

Both quarterbacks are also playing solid football heading into this matchup. Cam Newton has been a dual threat, leading his Panthers team to a 12-4 record and a NFC South division title.

For the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick played arguably his best game of the season against Green Bay. San Francisco's third-year signal-caller was accurate from the pocket and also broke free for 98 rushing yards, the most by anyone in last week's Wild Card playoff games.

The defenses will make their share of plays in this game, but with so many play-makers on the field, I'd expect there to be a few touchdowns for both sides. It will all come down to which side can force more turnovers to set their offense up with improved field position.

I’ll leave that up to Crabtree, Davis and Anquan Boldin.

I'm not sure, but we’ve seen Scott’s 40-time.

Chris Culliver is rehabbing at the 49ers facility and seems to be pretty upbeat. He's on Injured Reserve and can't return this season, but he's still been around his teammates. I wrote about this earlier in the year, Culliver is taking inspiration from how his college teammate Marcus Lattimore returned from major knee injuries to take part in practices this season.

I think that could be it. Or maybe it's just another year with mostly the same cast of players with a few quality additions spinkled into the bunch.

I’d say 30 yards.

It was cold when I was on the field before and after the game. I felt finger-tingling numbness. But I don't feel right explaining the expereince, I was really on the field a short amount of time. I'll let someone else explain what it was like later in the week.

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