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Lowell Cohn: This is what tough looks like

  • Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton embrace after Sunday's game. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 49ers are coming. Tell that to Seattle.

Yell it from the Golden Gate Bridge, from the Transamerica Pyramid, from the new Bay Bridge. Here come the Niners.

Tell it to the National Football League and all the 50 states. The 49ers had the toughest playoff schedule you could imagine, brutal degree of difficulty. Green Bay. Charlotte. They won and then they won again, beat Carolina 23-10 Sunday in Charlotte. Strictly no contest.

So, tell Seattle the 49ers will be there next Sunday. Tell the Seahawks’ crowd. The Niners are on the move.

And they keep moving because of defense. That means there’s a 49ers paradox from the get-go. They keep moving because they keep stopping teams. They sure stopped the Panthers on Sunday, the Panthers who beat the Niners this season, beat them at Candlestick.

The 49ers moved past that, blew right on by. They keep moving.

Here is the story of the game. Call it “The Gospel According to Tough Guys.” For short, the “Tough Guy Gospel.”

You’ll love this. The Panthers-49ers game always was going to be a fight. Toughest team wins. Last man standing. The Panthers knew that and came out tough, rough and gruff. They needed to establish their street cred.

On the 49ers’ very first offensive series, San Francisco failed on third-and-6, incomplete pass. Had to punt the ball. Except Panthers’ safety Mike Mitchell hit Vernon Davis after the play. The pass wasn’t even intended for Davis. Innocent bystander. Mitchell hit Davis from the side. A sucker shot.

It’s clear what Mitchell was trying to do — establish dominance, put the fear of God into Davis, whom the Panthers knocked out of their first game. It was a coward’s play and the official saw it and called Mitchell for unnecessary roughness — 15 yards. The Niners got a first down and went on for a field goal.

The Lesson: It’s good to be tough, but it’s bad to be stupid.

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