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Panthers remain aware of Kaepernick's dual-threat abilities

Colin Kaepernick
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers watched Sunday's game between the 49ers and Packers where San Francisco won 23-20 on the final play. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly took note of this citing Colin Kaepernick being versatile enough for passing and running.

"He did a great job running and made great decisions on when to throw and when to run," Kuechly said of Kaepernick in a conference call. "Obviously legs are his weapon and he knows that."

Kaepernick converted several third downs through the air or the ground against the Packers last Sunday. The 49ers went 6-12 on third down, with four of them being in the fourth quarter.

What ended the game was an 11-yard scramble to the left on third and eight to put the 49ers in the red zone. Phil Dawson finished the game with a 33-yard field goal for the final seconds to send the 49ers off and play the Panthers.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera noticed Kaepernick's ability to be clutch, saying he makes play in the nick of time. He said the help of Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis have helped him.

"Colin [Kaepernick] does what he has to do to make a play successful," Rivers said of Kaepernick in a conference call. "He was a guy we liked in the draft as well. He's doing some good things and has been consistent the last few weeks."

In the previous regular season meeting, Crabtree was still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon while Vernon Davis left the game in the second quarter with a concussion. Rivera said both players have made Kaepernick more comfortable as a passer.

Kuechly said the biggest way to stop Kaepernick is to control the gaps on defense. He said a simple "no" when asked if he was a consistent quarterback spy when facing a dual threat quarterback.

"[You need to] play your gaps anytime you have elusive quarterbacks and you have to do your responsibilities," Kuechly said. "As long as you're paying attention to what you're doing, you can be in a good position."

This will be the third time Kuechly faces Kaepernick in his football career. The first meeting was in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl game on January 9, 2011 when Boston College played Nevada in a 20-13 loss.

Kuechly said Kaepernick hasn't changed much then as now, saying both his arm and running abilities are great weapons. Opposing defenses need to be ready for both situations, according to the All-Pro linebacker.

"It's one of those things where he poses dangerous threats for defenses," Kuechly said. "You can't game plan him to throw it or run it, you have to do both."

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