SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
--The 49ers are plenty familiar with making trips to Seattle because they go there once a season as part of NFC West competition.
A week after winning in frigid conditions at Green Bay, the 49ers played in ideal conditions in Charlotte on Sunday as they defeated the Panthers 23-10 to advance to the NFC title game for the third straight season and will face the Seahawks in Seattle next Sunday.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks said some rain might have been a good thing for the 49ers looking ahead to their next game.
"If it had rained today, then we would have been prepared for their weather because it rains a lot in Seattle," Brooks said.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick said the recent history with the Seahawks shouldn't be a factor.
"That's in the past," he said. "This is a different situation. We have to go out there and win it."
--Wide receiver Michael Crabtree figured to be one of the X-factors for the 49ers in the rematch with Carolina because he missed the first meeting, which resulted in a 10-9 loss.
Crabtree's presence certainly drew some attention, though his production was rather minimal other than a key 20-yard reception on San Francisco's first touchdown drive. He made three total catches for 26 yards. Still, that made him the second-most productive receiver in the game for the 49ers.
Now there's another game in the season and that was the objective.
"I don't even look at it as the NFC championship," Crabtree said. "I'm looking at it like we are playing the Seattle Seahawks."
--Quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn't willing to take a jab without giving one back.
So when the war of words took place on the field at times between the 49ers and Carolina Panthers, he wasn't about to be without a comment or two.
"I'm not just going to let you say anything you want to me," he said. "If you are going to say something to me, I am going to respond."
--The first NFL playoff outing for quarterback Cam Newton was a disappointment.
"Playoff football is a different speed than the regular season," he said. "I learned that firsthand today."
Newton completed 16 of 25 passes for 267 yards, though 59 of those yards came on the game's second-to-last play when the 49ers had backed off.
"I'm going to focus on how I can get better than this," he said. "You have to seize the moment when the moment arrives."
--The Panthers were hit for eight penalties costing them 73 yards in their playoff loss to San Francisco.
The 49ers scored in three drives that involved defensive penalties.
"We've just got to be a little smarter," CB Captain Munnerlyn said. "They're going to throw to draw us, make us have penalties so they can get cheap yardage and get the first down. We've just got to be smarter and just go to play better."
Those infractions took a toll on the defense.
"Our defense played good for the most part, but we made a lot of dumb mental errors and got those penalties that really killed us," defensive tackle Star Lotulelei said.
--Veteran WR Steve Smith was back in action for the Panthers after missing the regular-season finale with a knee injury. He scored Carolina's only touchdown and made four catches for 74 yards.