The last time the Panthers and 49ers met, back in Week 10, Carolina eked out a 10-9 victory. It was the Panthers' fifth win in a row, and came eight days before they would defeat New England on Monday Night Football and make even the biggest skeptic concede that this team was legit.
Nine weeks later, and hours after the 49ers outlasted the Packers in frigid conditions, we have our rematch. But this time, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had everything to do with San Francisco's wild-card win, is looking for a different outcome in the NFC Divisional game.
Kap on playing Carolina: "We owe them." #QuestForSix— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 6, 2014
And while some people will no doubt try to turn that into bulletin-board material, the reality is that Kap's right. If the 49ers have any pride -- and they clearly do -- they will want to make up for that early November loss. It's that mentality that also explains Kaepernick's explanation for going sleeveless in Green Bay despite wind chills that made it feel like -14 degrees.
"I asked him if he was sure he didn't want to go to sleeves," coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. "He said no, he'd played in colder."
So there you go.
"Colin Kaepernick, I think we can all agree, is a clutch performer," Harbaugh continued, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "Somebody that answers in the clutch time of the game, on the important down. At the time when it matters most. That's what I would call clutch.
"He's Kaepernick-tough, and I think it's pretty awesome."
It's hard to argue with that assessment after Kap's performance against the Packers that included 98 rushing yards and a huge touchdown pass to Vernon Davis.
That said, cold weather won't be a factor in Charlotte when these two teams face off next Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. The early forecast is for rain and highs in the mid-60s.