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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Kaepernick vs. Carolina defense

By Bill Williamson

The last time he faced the Carolina Panthers -- two months ago -- Colin Kaepernick had his worst game as an NFL player.

Kaepernick and the 49ers' offense was throttled by the Panthers in a 10-9 home loss Nov. 10. Kaepernick set career lows for passing yards (91) and Total QBR (7.7) as a starting quarterback. He was also sacked a career most six times.

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Expect the Panthers to continue the same approach Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs as they did in November. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Panthers sent a traditional four-man or less pass rush on 74 percent of Kaepernick's drop backs in Week 10. He completed a career-low 47.1 percent of his passes against four-man rushes. He went 8-for-17 against a four-man rush, while he went 3-for-5 when blitzed. So, it would be a shock if the Panthers changed course.

However, Kaepernick will be better equipped to deal with whatever defense Carolina attacks him. Standout receiver Michael Crabtree did not play in Week 10. The 49ers' offense has been much better since Crabtree returned on Dec. 1 from a May Achilles tear. Also, star tight end Vernon Davis missed most of the Carolina game with a concussion.

Kaepernick is much more dangerous when top options Crabtree, Davis and receiver Anquan Boldin are on the field together. His completion average when all three are on the field together is 64 percent. It is 55.8 percent when, at least, one of the three is off the field.