View Count: 139 |  Publish Date: December 30, 2013
49ers win finale, to face Packers in playoffs

GLENDALE, Ariz. - It appears Anquan Boldin is ready to make a second straight Super Bowl run.
Led by Boldins huge first-half performance - and his high-degree-of-difficulty catches on their final two drives - the 49ers beat Arizona 23-20 on Sunday on Phil Dawsons 40-yard field goal as time expired.
With the win, the 49ers (12-4) will enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and will visit Green Bay (8-7-1) in a wild-card game on Saturday or Sunday. The Packers beat the Bears 33-28 on Sunday in a winner-take-all-meeting for the NFC North title.
On Sunday, the 49ers squandered a 17-0 first-quarter lead, but emerged victorious thanks to huge performances from Boldin (9 catches, 145 yards) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 310 yards, two touchdowns and had an 111.2 passer rating.
On San Franciscos game-winning drive, Kaepernick found Boldin for an 18-yard completion to Arizonas 46-yard line. He followed by setting up Dawsons field goal with a 29-yard completion to rookie Quinton Patton, who leapt over cornerback Antoine Cason for the catch. The 49ers started their final drive at Arizonas 40 after a 45-yard kickoff return from LaMichael James.
Boldin, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens last year, starred in his first game back in Arizona, where he played with Cardinals from 2003 to 2009. Boldins impact was immediate: With 52 seconds left in the first quarter, he had six catches for 106 yards - his second 100-yard game of the season - and the 49ers led 17-0.
Arizona, however, crept to within 17-10 and completed their comeback on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to wide receiver Andre Roberts on 3rd-and-13 with 3:20 left in the fourth quarter. Roberts appeared to get away with a slight push on cornerback Tramaine Brock and corralled the pass in the left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 17.
The 49ers immediately answered back with a 41-yard drive highlighted by Boldins soasring 17-yard catch along the left sideline. With 1:45 left, Dawson, who missed a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter, atoned by drilling a 56-yarder to give the 49ers a 20-17 lead.
That set the stage for Arizona to muster some late-game heroics. Thanks to a 23-yard connection from Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald, Jay Feely soon followed by connecting on a 43-yard field with 29 seconds left.
In the first quarter, it appeared the 49ers would cruise to victory.
Leading 3-0 early in the first quarter, the 49ers first touchdown was set up by an interception from NaVorro Bowman. The inside linebacker didnt have a pick in 29 straight games until his game-sealing 89-yard return for a touchdown in a win against the Falcons last week, but he stepped in front of short pass from Palmer for his second pick in six days.
The takeaway set up a 22-yard drive capped by four-yard fade from Kaepernick to Boldin, who outmuscled cornerback Jerraud Powers and made a strong-handed grab in the right corner.
That touchdown was set up by a 21-yard Kaepernick-to-Boldin connection and the pair was it again on the 49ers next drive. On 3rd-and-4, Bolin had a 63-yard catch-and-run that included a key block from Patton on linebacker Daryl Washington. On the next play, Kaepernick found tight end Vernon Davis wide open for a three-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals trimmed the deficit to 17-7 at halftime on Palmers one-yard pass to tight end Jake Ballard on fourth-and-goal. They closed to 17-10 on 49-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter by Feely, who also missed attempts of 37 and 43 yards.
On their first offensive series, the 49ers marched 53 yards for a field goal thanks a heavy dose of Bolin and offensive creativity. Boldin had two catches for 16 yards on the drive and added an 11-yard scamper on a reverse.
On the play following Boldins run, the 49ers did it again in the opposite direction and Patton ran 26 yards on a reverse to Arizonas eight-yard line. After three straight incompletions, the 49ers settled for Phil Dawsons 27-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

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Time: 2:39  |  News Code: 359733  |  Site: San Francisco Chronicle
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