Looks like the quarterback change has paid off so far.
In a NFC Divisional Game, Colin Kaepernick lead the San Francisco 49ers through the air and on the ground to a huge victory over the Green Bay Packers 45-31. Kaepernick was responsible for 437 total yards with 181 of those coming on the ground. That set a record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback breaking the old mark of 173 set by Michael Vick in 2002. Kaepernick also had 4 total touchdowns with two of those being taken in by himself. On a franchise that has seen Joe Montana and Steve Young play quarterback, Kaepernick certainly stood out today.
“It feels good. We’re one step closer to where we want to be,” Kaepernick said. “I feel like I had a lot to prove. A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team.”
Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, finished the game going 26/39 for 257 passing yards, 2 touchdown passes, and one interception. Similar stats to when the Packers lost to the 49ers at Lambeau to begin the regular season.
The 49ers get back to the NFC Championship game for a 2nd year in a row while the Packers get eliminated in the Divisional Round for a 2nd year in a row.
While Kaepernick was certainly the star tonight, the numbers favored San Francisco. They had the ball for 38:01 which effectively took plenty of time away from Aaron Rodgers and that Green Bay offense. The 49ers had 579 total yards of offense which is postseason franchise record compared to 352 by the Packers. Most of the yardage came from the ground game with 323 rushing yards for San Francisco.
“Our offensive line did an amazing job today,” Kaepernick said. “They shut everybody down inside. Our receivers, our tight ends, blocked great outside, and our running backs were running hard, so it made it easier on me.”
Kaepernick’s night started off very rough when he threw an interception on the first drive of the game to CB Sam Shields who returned it for a 52 yard touchdown for Green Bay.
Despite the bad start, Colin rebounded and took off, quite literally on many plays. The very next drive for the 49ers ended with Kaepernick running for 20 yard touchdown to tie the game.
“He does a great job of responding,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said of Colin Kaepernick rebounding after the turnover. “Every time there has been an interception he’s thrown or a safety or turnover, he’s responded with a scoring drive. I think that’s a rare quality and, uh, so far he’s shown he’s got that ability to, uh, comeback.”
It took a couple more drives for another score to happen. After a 44 yard pass to James Jones, DuJuan Harris scored a 18 yard touchdown run to give the Packers the lead back with just 29 seconds left in the 1st.
To start the 2nd quarter, the 49ers scored two touchdowns on their next two possessions. First, Jeremy Ross muffed a punt by Andy Lee which was recovered by 49ers Safety C.J. Spillman at the GB 9. Then on a 3rd and goal, Kaepernick delivered his first TD pass to Michael Crabtree on a 12 yard play. The 49ers were 8/13 on third down conversions while the Packers converted just 5/12.
The ensuing Packers drive ended with Aaron Rodgers throwing a deep interception to Tarell Brown who returned it 39 yards to the GB 48. The turnover would result in a 2nd touchdown pass to Crabtree for 20 yards to take the lead for the first time in the game 21-14. That score came after a 15 yard run by Kaepernick which got called back after a taunting penalty on Colin when he spiked the ball after the play.
Meanwhile, Crabtree had 9 catches for 119 yards and those 2 touchdown grabs.
A couple of San Francisco penalties and a blown coverage assignment lead to a touchdown pass from Rodgers to James Jones for 20 yards. Jones had 4 receptions in this one for 87 yards and the one touchdown.
A couple of nice runs for Kaepernick helped get the 49ers a field goal just before half time. David Akers hit a 36 yarder to give San Francisco a 3 point lead heading into the locker room.
The 2nd half had the 49ers taking over this game. After a game tying 31 yard field goal by Mason Crosby, Kaepernick ran for a 56 yard touchdown on a design run play to give San Francisco the lead back. It was only the third play of that drive.
The next 49ers drive had Vernon Davis getting his only catch of the night with a 44 yard grab. That help set up 2 yard touchdown run by Frank Gore which put San Francisco up by 14 to start the 4th quarter. Gore had a total of 119 rushing yards on 23 carries and the one TD run.
After forcing the Packers to punt for a 3rd time in the 2nd half, the 49ers launched a huge nail-in-the-coffin type of drive with 11 plays killing 7:54 of the clock, and finishing it off with a 2 yard touchdown run for Anthony Dixon on his first and only carry of the night. What made the drive even more excruciating for the Packers was B.J. Raji getting called for a 5 yard encroachment penalty on a 4th and 1 to keep the drive alive for the 49ers. Green Bay would get it back with just 3:34 to go in the game and being down by 21.
Rodgers would manage to lead Green Bay for a consolation 3 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings but it was too little too late leaving just 57 seconds on the game clock. A failed onside kick recovered by San Francisco TE Delanie Walker sealed Green Bay’s fate.
Last year’s Divisional Playoff game for the 49ers was highlighted by Alex Smith who was on the bench this time around. Once again a San Francisco quarterback gets them a win. It’s the NFC Championship game, however, that needs the QB to make his presence known. They will face either Atlanta or Seattle as San Francisco is once more knocking on the door for a Super Bowl appearance.
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Written by Daniel Trucios