SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Bring on Carolina once more, and another cross-country playoff flight.
The San Francisco 49ers are all for a rematch with the Panthers, even if it means hitting the road again this week to keep their latest postseason run going.
"Onward now," coach Jim Harbaugh said.
The Panthers shut down San Francisco and quarterback Colin Kaepernick 10-9 at Candlestick Park on Nov. 10, snapping the Niners' five-game winning streak. The 49ers lost the following week at New Orleans for their second two-game skid of the season, but have been on an impressive unbeaten roll in seven games since then after a 23-20 wild-card win Sunday at bitterly cold Green Bay.
Now, the 49ers (13-4) get a second chance at Cam Newton and Co. in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday. Now, they have a healthy, playmaking Michael Crabtree in the receiving corps.
And true to his normal, succinct nature, Kaepernick offered this on Carolina: "We owe 'em."
Added rookie linebacker Nick Moody on Twitter: "Rematch against Carolina next week."
Kaepernick went 11 for 22 for 91 yards with an interception and was sacked six times for a 42.0 passer rating in a rare poor performance.
Both Kaepernick and Panthers quarterback Newton — drafted No. 1 overall in 2011 while Kaepernick was the sixth QB selected — will be eager to have much better games on the postseason stage.
Newton went 16 of 32 for 169 yards, an interception and four sacks for a 52.7 rating.
The Niners needed every ounce out of Kaepernick to get past Green Bay for the fourth straight time and second playoff victory in as many Januarys.
"We've got a good bad-weather quarterback. I think we've established that," Harbaugh said Monday. "Being able to throw a ball that pierces through the elements, the wind. He's shown that in the rain, bad weather, footing, or elements of precipitation. He can pierce a defense with velocity and tightness of the spiral."
Not to mention with his long legs.
Kaepernick's 11-yard run on third-and-8 set up Phil Dawson's winning 33-yard field goal as time expired at Lambeau Field.
No sleeves necessary for the tattooed quarterback playing in subzero temperatures, a Wisconsin native to the bone.
And that No. 5 seed for the NFC West runner-ups? No matter.
Kaepernick connected with a couple of his favorite playoff targets Sunday, completing eight passes for 125 yards to Crabtree and a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis in the fourth quarter against the Packers.