Rivera: Kaepernick tougher to defend this time

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera is expecting a few more big plays from San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick this time around.

Rivera said Monday that Kaepernick "didn't play that well" in the first meeting against Carolina on Nov. 10. The Panthers limited the third-year quarterback to 91 yards passing, 16 yards rushing and no touchdowns in a 10-9 win over the 49ers at Candlestick Park.

On Sunday, the two teams meet again in the NFC divisional playoffs in Charlotte, N.C., and Rivera said he expects Kaepernick will be on his game — and make it that much tougher on his defense.

"I don't expect that again," Rivera said. "I expect the young man to come out and play well. He's a good football player and he showed it (Sunday) night" against Green Bay.

The 49ers have won six straight games, including a 23-20 playoff win over the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday at Lambeau Field. Kaepernick threw for 223 yards and a touchdown and ran for 98 yards against the Packers.

Over the past six games, Kaepernick has elevated his play, averaging 231 yards passing per game with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Rivera says the 49ers are a much better team than they played back in November.

"All you have to do is watch the way he has played down the stretch," Rivera said. "We caught them at a good time and it turned out in our benefit."

Perhaps.

Kaepernick was without wide receiver Michael Crabtree in the last meeting and tight end Vernon Davis left early in the game with a concussion. Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards in the win over Green Bay.

Mario Manningham led the 49ers with 30 yards receiving in the last game against Carolina and San Francisco's longest pass play went for 14 yards. The 49ers managed just 10 first downs against Carolina and failed to get into the end zone.