Colin Kaepernick ran for 98 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the wildcard round. However, this week the attention will fall on another dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton.
"That's everyone's job [to stop him]," NaVorro Bowman said. "It starts up front and those guys doing their job. And then if he gets away from those guys, it trickles down. But he's a guy that has to be paid attention to when it comes to scrambling. So [for us] as a defense, we have to keep that in mind the whole game."
Newton has 585 rushing yards this season, which leads any NFL quarterback for 2013. Colin Kaepernick had 524 rushing yards this year, which is 61 yards less than Newton. In the Week 10 meeting, he had only 15 yards on eight rushing attempt against the 49ers, where he was sacked three times.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio expects nothing but a tough challenge against the third-year quarterback. Newton was the NFL Offensive rookie of the Year in 2011.
"I think when you have a quarterback of Cam Newton’s ability in this type of game, I think he’d be apt to run maybe a little bit more than he would normally," Fangio said. "They may even call more of the quarterback runs for him, the quarterback powers and lead draws. We’re anticipating more of those from them. [I think] Newton’s a playmaker and we’ve all got to be aware of him.”
San Francisco has not blitzed frequently and it isn't expected to change against the Panthers this Sunday. Fangio expects his defensive line to take control of any battles in the trenches. If they do bring pressure on the quarterback, Cam Newton could counter and run away from any pass rushers. Fangio said he likes the progress of how Ahmad Brooks as a pass rusher with a career-high 8.5 sacks.
Both Kaepernick and Newton struggled in the 10-9 Panthers win during Week 10. The 49ers don't want to underestimate the Panthers quarterback, citing his ability to be clutch which includes three game-winning touchdowns in the final two minutes.
"Besides the gun read stuff that they do with Cam Newton, the quarterback lead-draws and powers that they do with him, they’ve got a very well-coached offensive line," Fangio said. "Their line works very well together. They’re a good football team and they’re very efficient on offense.”