Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers made an emphatic statement in their Divisional Round matchup against the Green Bay Packers, dominating the second half en route to a 45-31 win.
In a game that featured one of the elite quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers, it was Kaepernick that ultimately stole the spotlight.
The scoring was fast and furious from the outset, as Sam Shields returned a Kaepernick interception 52 yards within two minutes of kickoff to put the Packers up, 7-0, in the early going.
The young Kaepernick would not allow the early miscue to bring him down, though. He quickly evened the score with a 20-yard touchdown sprint and set the tone for the type of things he would do for the rest of the game.
Not to be outdone, the Packers would march right down the field as the first quarter ended, scoring a go-ahead touchdown on an 18-yard jaunt from running back DuJuan Harris.
The Niners would own the second quarter, as Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree for back-to-back touchdowns of 12 and 20 yards, respectively. Rodgers would answer with a 20-yard touchdown toss of his own to James Jones, but David Akers hit a 36-yard field goal to close out the half that put the Niners ahead by three.
The second half would prove to be all about Kaepernick.
The second-year quarterback answered a Mason Crosby field goal that tied the game with an incredible 56-yard scoring run that punctuated a record-setting performance. Kaepernick set the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game with 181.
The fourth quarter was all San Francisco, as the Packers defense appeared too worn down to slow the onslaught of runs from Frank Gore, who managed a touchdown in the fourth quarter along with running back Anthony Dixon.
Rodgers would connect with Greg Jennings for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but the score was nothing but window dressing, as it was a clear case of too little, too late.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted Kaepernick's success when scrambling early in the game, a trend that would continue throughout:
Colin Kaepernick has scrambled 5 times for 75 yards and a TD, already his single-game high for scramble yards this season. #GBvsSF— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2013
Mike Sando of ESPN recognized the expanded role that Michael Crabtree saw in the game compared to the 2011 playoffs. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (who knows a little something about good receiver play) acknowledged Crabtree's impressive first half:
Crabtree had 5 catches for 28 yards in playoffs last season. 5-65 tonight.— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@espn_nfcwest) January 13, 2013
#Crabtree having a nice game— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) January 13, 2013
At the half: Aaron Rodgers with 96 yards passing. Colin Kaepernick w/107 yards rushing. #Packersvs49ers— FOX SPORTS: NFL (@NFLONFOX) January 13, 2013
Ross Tucker was as baffled by the Packers' defensive game plan as everyone else, pointing out that the Packers seemed unprepared for Kaepernick's rushing ability:
It's like the Packers had no idea the Niners might run the zone read in this game. Unacceptable.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) January 13, 2013
ESPN Stats & Info was all over Kaepernick's performance. He had a night for the record books and joined rare company:
FROM ELIAS: Only QBs in history with 2 Pass TD & 2 Rush TD in same playoff game: Otto Graham (twice), Jay Cutler & Colin Kaepernick.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2013
FROM ELIAS: Colin Kaepernick sets the NFL postseason record for single-game Rush Yds by a QB with 163 (Michael Vick - 119 on Jan 15, 2005)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2013
With the win, the 49ers punched their ticket to the NFC Championship Game, where they will meet the winner of Sunday's divisional playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons. After this impressive performance, it's clear that they will be dangerous regardless of opponent.