The Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers have a lot in common. Each has a dual-threat quarterback, a top-five defense. The teams’ third-year coaches who were teammates for the Chicago Bears. The biggest difference between the teams that will meet Sunday in an NFC divisional-round game at Bank of America Stadium is playoff experience. The 49ers (13-4) are trying to reach the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive year under coach Jim Harbaugh, a year after losing to Baltimore in the Super Bowl. The Panthers (12-4) are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. As they began preparations for the 49ers on Monday, Panthers players and coaches downplayed the disparity in postseason experience. “I’ve never been to the playoffs, and they’ve been to the Super Bowl. But I don’t think that (affects) the outcome of this game at all,” said cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a 2009 draft pick who arrived a year after the Panthers’ last postseason appearance. “If we go out there and play Carolina-style football, we should come out victorious.” Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said “there’s no way to argue” the Panthers are more playoff-tested than the 49ers. But Shula said he was surprised when, during an offensive meeting in the preseason, he asked how many players had been in the playoffs and saw a number of hands shoot up. While nearly every nonrookie on San Francisco’s roster has been in a playoff game, fewer than half (21) the Panthers’ 53-man roster has playoff experience. But the list includes seven starters on offense – including three-fifths of the offensive line – and five on defense.
Biggest difference in Panthers-49ers: San Francisco has been here before
Charlotte Observer | Jan 7