Keys to victory: 49ers 23, Panthers 10

What were the keys to the San Francisco 49ers' 23-10 win over the Carolina Panthers?

49ers chew up the clock with long drives

The 49ers had five scoring drives in this game and they lasted a combined 52 plays.

The key drives in this game were the 49ers last one of the second quarter and first one of the third quarter, each of which resulted in touchdowns. In those two drives, the 49ers ran 25 plays that gained 153 yards over a span of 8 minutes and 18 seconds. The Panthers went three-and-out in between those two touchdowns.

It helped that Phil Dawson made all three of his field goal attempts. He has now made 35 of his last 36 attempts since going 0 for 2 against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4.

Kaepernick was able to throw it

Despite being heavily pressured through much of the game, Colin Kaepernick was successful when passing downfield. He was 6 for 8 for 136 yards on throws longer than 10 yards downfield in this game. He was 0 for 6 against the Panthers in the Week 10 loss.

His 23-yard throw to Quinton Patton and 45-yard throw to Anquan Boldin were longer than any throw he completed in the previous game against the Panthers.

Boldin was the biggest beneficiary of Kaepernick’s passes. He finished with eight catches for 136 yards. Kaepernick was 4 for 4 on his second-half throws, all of which went to Boldin. Three of those passes resulted in first downs. The fourth was a yard shy of the first down.

Vernon Davis also had a touchdown catch. His seven postseason touchdown receptions are tied with Dave Casper for the most by a tight end in NFL history.

Newton struggled when pressured

The 49ers were successful when they were able to get to Cam Newton.

49ers Pass Defense
Last 2 Postseasons

Newton had more passes caught by the 49ers (two) than his teammates (one) in the four instances in which he got a throw away under duress.

Newton was sacked five times. The Panthers went 0-4 this season in games in which Newton was sacked at least five times.

The Panthers failed to capitalize on the opportunities they did get. They ran eight plays inside the San Francisco 10-yard line during the game and did not score a touchdown.

Stats of the Day

The 49ers snapped their four-game road losing streak in the divisional round. This was their first playoff road win in that round since beating the Minnesota Vikings during the 1970 postseason.

The 49ers are the fourth NFL team to win 30 postseason games, joining the Dallas Cowboys (33), Pittsburgh Steelers (33) and Green Bay Packers (30).

This will be the 49ers' 15th appearance in an AFC/NFC championship game, tying the Steelers for the most all-time.

The 49ers are the first NFC team under the current playoff format (since 1990) to return to the Conference Championship the season after losing the Super Bowl.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Jim Harbaugh became the first head coach to lead his team to the AFC/NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons.