From our Don Ruiz, who was in Charlotte today:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The San Francisco 49ers have the pairing they wanted.
Their 23-10 win at Carolina on Sunday sends them through to the NFC championship game next weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. And after the game, San Francisco players and coaches said that feels like the fitting path to determining who goes on to the Super Bowl.
“Yeah, I think we’re the two teams that everybody was kind of looking at from the beginning,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “It’s going to be a knock down, drag out game.”
Coach Jim Harbaugh added this: “Sure. Why not? Our team’s excited to have this chance – the ultimate chance. We’re ready.”
Meanwhile, receiver Michael Crabtree downplayed the stakes while taking more of a next-game-on-the-schedule approach.
“I don’t even look at it as the NFC championship,” he said. “I’m looking at it like we are playing the Seattle Seahawks. We just finished a game, and I’m looking forward to the next one.”
The 49ers and Seahawks split two meetings during the NFL regular season. On Sept. 15, the Seahawks won 29-3 at CenturyLink Field, while on Dec. 8 the Niners won 19-17 at Candlestick Park.
The rubber match will be played at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Seahawks earned home field by winning the NFC Western Conference with a 13-3 record. San Francisco was the runner up at 12-4.
The third meeting will determine the NFC representative in the Super Bowl, which will be played at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“They’re in our way, and we’re in their way,” San Francisco linebacker Ahmed Brooks said. “The best men are going to win.”