Carolina stunned San Francisco in November with a 10-9 victory at
The 49ers will lean heavily on running back
In his first three seasons, Newton has 11,299 yards passing, third most in
Leading Carolina's second-ranked defense is linebacker
A numbers game
Steve Smith, the Panthers' all-time leading receiver, expects to be back for Sunday's game after suffering a sprained knee ligament in a Week 16 victory over New Orleans.
In the lead-up to his first playoff game in years, Smith couldn't help but poke fun at the notion of attributing a percentage to his health, as is so common in sports. He said he was at 71% health Wednesday, but downgraded himself Thursday to 57%.
"Honestly," he said, "I just randomly pick numbers."
On the run
Vic Fangio, 49ers defensive coordinator, said his players will be on alert for Newton running more in this game than he typically might.
"They may even call more of the quarterback runs for him, the quarterback powers and lead draws," Fangio said. "We're anticipating more of those from them. Newton's a playmaker, and we all need to be aware of him."
By the numbers
How teams compare statistically. All stats are per-game averages, except for sacks and turnover differential, which are for the season (league rank in parentheses):
Category | SF | CAR
Points scored: 25.4 (11) | 22.9 (18)
Points allowed: 17.0 (3) | 15.1 (2)
Pass offense: 186.2 (30) | 190.2 (29)
Rush offense: 137.6 (3) | 126.6 (11)
Pass defense: 221.0 (7) | 214.3 (6)
Rush defense: 95.9 (4) | 86.9 (2)
Sacks: 38 (18) | 60 (1)
Penalty yards: 52.8 (18) | 41.9 (4)
Turnovers: +12 (4) | +11 (6)