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The 49ers held Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on the 1-yard line in the first half.

Newton finished with 267 yards passing and had 54 yards on 10 carries, but the Panthers only found the end zone once — on a 31-yard TD strike to Steve Smith.

It was a rough playoff debut for Newton.

Linebacker Ahmad Brooks stopped Newton on a fourth-down sneak early in the second. Later, Brooks vaulted over the line and past Newton — he was called for offsides, but the 49ers showed the Panthers it wouldn’t be easy.

“Terrible ending to a great season,” Newton said.

Almost fittingly, he misfired into the end zone on the final play of the game.

Kaepernick was held to 91 yards passing, 16 yards rushing and sacked six times in the first meeting with Carolina, a 10-9 loss at Candlestick Park.

But he played efficient football Sunday.

“We had to get settled down,” Kaepernick said. “We came out, they did some unorthodox things against us. We settled down, we got into our rhythm, we started making plays.”

San Francisco led 13-10 at the half when Kaepernick scored midway through in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run off a read option.

The Panthers couldn’t answer, failing to score in the second half.

The 49ers took a 13-10 lead into the locker room after Vernon Davis caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Kaepernick with 5 seconds left in the first half.

Davis was initially ruled out of the end zone on a play where 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh raced on to the field, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Harbaugh said he wasn’t disputing the catch, but rather that the play clock continued to run after the play.

All turned out fine for the 49ers though, as officials overturned the call ruling Davis dragged his left foot and scored.

Television replays showed the 49ers had 12 men in the huddle with backup tight end Vance McDonald racing to the sidelines before the ball was snapped. Referee Carl Cheffers defended the call telling a pool reporter the ball hadn’t been spotted — although Fox television replays seem to indicate otherwise.

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