CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NaVorro Bowman did not need to rehash the San Francisco 49ers' history with the Seattle Seahawks. The bitter NFC West rivals will meet again in the NFC championship game after San Francisco's 23-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
"Long story short: They know us, we know them," said Bowman, a Pro Bowl linebacker and former Penn State standout. "We all know the history."
The 49ers and Seahawks finished with the NFC's best records. They split the last two season series, with each team winning on its home turf. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll are coaching rivals from the Pac-10.
"We butt heads. We definitely don't get along," said 49ers tight end Garrett Celek. "Every time we play each other, it's a turned-up game. They beat us at their house, we beat them at our house. Now we get to put a little bit of revenge at their house."
San Francisco has won eight straight games and consecutive postseason road games. Sunday's win over the Panthers set the precedent for avenging a road defeat.
When the 49ers visited Carolina on Nov. 10, they could not score a touchdown in a 10-9 loss. Their offense was stifled by a defense overseen by Sean McDermott, who was the Eagles' defensive coordinator in 2009-10.
San Francisco was stifled again through much of Sunday's first half, when the 49ers managed only 139 yards and was aided by Carolina's five penalties. Vernon Davis ended the TD drought, scoring on a 1-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick five seconds before halftime for a 13-10 Niners lead. They dominated the second half to end Carolina's season.
"It was a real arm-wrestling kind of struggle," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of a game with 13 penalties.
The Panthers failed on four tries from the 49ers' 1-yard line in the first half. Fourteen potential points resulted in only three. Cam Newton came up short of the end zone on a fourth down, leaving Carolina with no points on that drive.
"I take a lot of pressure on myself to perform in situations ... and I take it even harder when I call the play and it doesn't work out the right way," said Newton, who finished 16 of 25 for 267 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
"We pride ourselves on keeping teams out of the end zone," said Bowman, who was passed over by the Eagles three times in the 2010 draft. "We can hold up at the goal line four downs in a row. That just lets you know that we're here to play and it's going to be a long day."
The big swing came in the third quarter when Carolina opened with a three-and-out. The 49ers then drove 77 yards and scored on Kaepernick's 4-yard touchdown run. After the score, Kaepernick mocked Newton's Superman celebration.
"Just a little shout-out," said Kaepernick, who finished 15 of 28 for 196 yards and one touchdown. He improved to 4-1 in the postseason.
The 49ers held the ball for nearly 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, converting three third downs on an eight-minute drive that ended with a 34-yard field goal by Phil Dawson for a 23-10 lead. Newton's final interception sealed the loss.
In the Niners' locker room after the game, they emphasized the improvements of the offense since the Nov. 10 meeting. Tight end Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree are healthy now.
The star of the 49ers offense on Sunday was veteran receiver Anquan Boldin, who had eight catches for 136 yards.
Boldin is among several experienced players on the 49ers roster, many of whom made the Super Bowl last season. The Panthers had not been to the postseason since the 2008 season and had not won a playoff game since the 2005 season.
Seasoning won't be an issue next week. Both the Seahawks and 49ers are experienced, with two of the NFL's most talented rosters.
"This is (for the) Super Bowl, man," Bowman said. "Everything is on the line. That just says it all. We're ready."
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