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Colin Kaepernick will lead the charge for San Francisco on Saturday. Can he do it?
Note: Please temper any and all outrage for just a second.
This is not the uplifting of one quarterback at the expense of another. We aren’t declaring that either 49ers QB is better than the other or why one is playing and why one is not.
We’re merely pointing out a personnel change at the most important position on the field and evaluating the one calling plays in the huddle.
On opening week, Alex Smith put forth arguably his greatest quarterbacking of the season against the Packers.
Smith’s 83.5 QBR and 8.12-yards per completion both ranked as third highest for him in 2012. He surpassed his 76.9 completion percentage just once.
What made the performance so special, however, were his two touchdowns and zero interceptions (and 221 yards) in a battle for NFC supremacy in enemy territory. Smith executed a balanced game plan to perfection, outplaying Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in the process.
Starting Saturday, January 12, at 5 p.m. ET, Colin Kaepernick, and not Alex Smith, will take the field under center.
And the only real question that needs answering, then, is whether Kaepernick can lead a similar winning performance against the Packers, albeit in the playoffs.
Since we don’t fancy ourselves masters of the human psyche, we’ll keep it simple. Let’s break it down using empirical data from Kaepernick’s greatest outings of the season.
Kaepernick made his first career NFL start against the 7-2 Bears at Candlestick Park. He completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He produced a QBR of 97.5 and averaged 10.57-yards per pass.
The Bears featured one of the most formidable pass defenses in the league at that point.
Against the 10-3 Patriots on their home turf, Kaepernick completed just 56 percent of his passes and threw an interception. He did, however, throw four touchdowns and put up an 87.7 QBR and average of 8.84-yards per pass.
Not to mention, he outplayed Tom Brady in his own backyard.
New England also hadn’t lost a second-half game in its last 21 chances or at home during the month of December for 20 straight times.
With those games in mind, the numbers are definitely in Kaepernick’s favor based on beating teams with his arm and doing so on the big stage.
And if the injuries to the receiving corps necessitate Kaepernick using his legs for the winning advantage, he has four games with 50-plus yards rushing and a total of five rushing TDs.
So, can the second-year quarterback harness those performances and transform them into a playoff victory over the Packers?
We certainly believe so. But then again, these are just numbers.
What do you guys think?
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