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49ers eager for another long playoff trip

Published Jan. 7, 2014

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Bring on Carolina again, and another cross-country playoff flight.

The 49ers are all for a rematch with the Panthers, even if it means hitting the road again this week to keep their latest postseason run going.

"Onward now," coach Jim Harbaugh said.

The Panthers shut down San Francisco and quarterback Colin Kaepernick 10-9 on Nov. 10 at Candlestick Park, snapping the Niners' five-game winning streak. The 49ers lost the following week at New Orleans for a two-game skid but have won seven straight since, including Sunday's 23-20 wild-card win Sunday at Green Bay.

Now, San Francisco gets a second chance at Cam Newton and Co. in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday.

And true to his normal, succinct nature, Kaepernick offered this on Carolina: "We owe 'em."

Kaepernick went 11 for 22 for 91 yards with an interception and was sacked six times for a 42.0 passer rating, a rare poor day, in the first meeting with the Panthers and their No. 2 ranked defense (301.3 yards a game).

Panthers receiver Steve Smith (sprained left knee) said he expects to play.

Browns search: New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels confirmed he interviewed over the weekend with Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner. McDaniels' Patriots are preparing for a division round playoff game Saturday night against the Colts. Also, the Associated Press reported that the Browns won't interview Oklahoma coach and Ohio native Bob Stoops.

Concussion settlement: Lawyers representing former players in the proposed $765 million settlement of thousands of concussion-related claims detailed how the money would be divided. The awards could reach $5 million for athletes with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease; $4 million for a death involving brain trauma; and $3 million for dementia cases. Maximum awards would go to players under 45, who would likely need more lifetime care.

Colts: They signed former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, who has sat out this season after spending 2012 with the Patriots.

Dolphins: Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was fired, the first change since the team missed the playoffs because of a late-season collapse.

Patriots: Starting linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) went on injured reserve.

Redskins: Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell became at least the fifth known candidate to meet with general manager Bruce Allen concerning their coaching job.

Vikings: They asked to interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, the younger brother of ex-Bucs coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. Jay Gruden told reporters in Cincinnati that Tennessee and Washington have also requested permission to interview him for their coaching vacancies.

Wild CardDivision RoundAFC title

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