The Raiders cross-bay rival goes cross-country to face the Panthers. Last year the 49ers were in the Super Bowl and Panthers had four wins. Now, despite having identical records (12-4), the tables have turned and the Panthers are the number two seed hosting the 49ers and making for an early start by the 49ers West Coast clocks.
Here are the details you need to know:
Who: (5) San Francisco 49ers (12-4) vs. (2) Carolina Panthers (12-4)
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
When: Sunday, January 12, 10:05am Pacific (1:05 ET)
These two teams stack up pretty similarly. Both have athletic quarterbacks with live arms and both have solid defenses.
The 49ers offense is a bit better with Colin Kaepernick now fielding a fully healthy receiving corps led by Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. On the ground, they have one of the best in the business in running back Frank Gore.
They face a Panthers defense that is one of the best in the league, led by middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and Greg Hardy with his 15.0 sacks. It also features former Raiders safety, Mike Mitchell and standout rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei.
The Panthers offense of is led by good ol' face-kicker himself, Cam Newton, and his always vocal wide receiver, Steve "Ice up, son" Smith. It looks as if the injured receiver will play in this game which is great news for the Panthers. DeAngelo Williams carries the load at running back with All Pro fullback, Mike Tolbert, as the short yardage specialist.