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Playoff Action Sets Kaepernick Apart from Newton

Colin Kaepernick is 2-0 on the road in the playoffs and has the most postseason road wins by a starting quarterback in the proud history of the San Francisco 49ers.

The third-year pro is also 3-1 in the postseason, giving him four more playoff appearances than his Sunday adversary, Cam Newton.

The Carolina Panthers starting signal-caller was the No. 1 draft pick in Kaepernick's 2011 draft class, but will be making his postseason debut when the 49ers visit the Panthers on Sunday for the NFC Divisional Playoff round.

Kaepernick was the No. 36 overall draft pick that season and said he hasn't forgetten about where both players were taken. Since draft day, both quarterbacks have come under fire at times in their three seasons in the league. Blessed with numerous physical gifts like size, speed and rocket-like arms, there's plenty of similar characteristics between both team leaders.

Kaepernick acknowledged as much on Wednesday.

"He's a great player," the 49ers quarterback said of his counterpart with the Panthers. "He does a lot of things well. We do have some similarities."

If the physical attributes weren't enough, both quarterbacks guided their respective teams to 12-4 regular season records. The Panthers earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs, giving them Sunday's home game against the 49ers.

Both quarterbacks will have a big say in determining who advances to the NFC Championship game. Their importance to their team's Super Bowl aspirations was noted by NFL Network analyst and former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner.

The former 49ers rival pointed to Newton's play-making ability improving in 2013, especially being paired with Carolina's dominant defense.

"Cam is phenomenal at making plays," Warner said on a recent TV appearance. "He's phenomenal at critical moments of games. That's what we've seen this year. When you give him a throw, he can make every throw on the football field. He just has to get more and more consistent at reading coverages and getting through progressions."

Warner doesn't foresee Newtown being able to carry the Panthers to the NFC title game just yet. San Francisco's physical defense will pose a threat to the young quarterback winning his first postseason appearance.

"I believe he has it in him, but they have to keep this game close," Warner added. "I don't think they can ask him to make 60 minutes of plays to win this football game against this defense."

On the flipside, Warner has also seen steady improvement from Kaepernick.

The biggest difference is the athletic quarterback's memorable postseason moments in crunch time. Kaepernick demonstrated his big-game ability once again by producing 325 of San Francisco's 381 net yards of offense against the Packers last week.

"The great thing about 'Kap' is that he's been very clutch in the big moments of big games," Warner said. "We've seen him on the playoff stage really step up and play well.

"He just finds a way in those critical moments to make plays. You've got to love what he's doing."

Warner mentioned that Kaepernick has improved his decision-making throughout the season. It was evident in his performance over the Packers.

"He made the right decisions this past week and moved the chains," the former NFL MVP said. "I'm seeing some progress there, but more than anything, he just rises to the occasion."

When Kaepernick and Newton meet for the second time on Sunday, the quarterback who handles the big stage will likely decide who advances in the tournament.



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