Colin Kaepernick: 49ers QB Proves Greatness in Historic Performance vs. Packers
If anyone was still wondering why San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made the switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick midway through the season, all they need to do is watch tape of the divisional round game against the Green Bay Packers.
In case you haven't heard, or your television, Internet and cell phone broke down at the same time, Kaepernick had 444 yards of total offense (263 passing, 181 rushing) and four touchdowns in the 49ers' 45-31 victory.
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As impressive as those numbers sound on paper, they were even more so when you watched the way Kaepernick picked apart the Packers. He confused them all game long with the option running game and showed off his strong, accurate arm multiple times.
If you want to know just how lost the Packers were, all you need to do is watch a play in the fourth quarter when Kaepernick kept the ball out of the pistol formation, ran to the outside waiting for a block, picked up a first down and turned Packers linebacker Clay Matthews around.
From the running of Michael Vick to the precision strikes of Aaron Rodgers (the man Kaepernick outclassed in every way) to the on-the-move touch passes of Joe Montana, Kaepernick was some hybrid of greatness.
Even more impressive than the numbers Kaepernick put up against the Packers was the way he responded to adversity in his first playoff game.
Things did not start out great for Kaepernick, as he threw an interception on his second pass of the game to Sam Shields that was returned for a touchdown and gave the Packers a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game.
A lot of young quarterbacks would have been undone by that moment. However, Kaepernick came back on the next drive, led the 49ers down the field, and ran for a 20-yard touchdown on third down to tie the game.
After some back and forth between these two offenses, the 49ers pulled away in the second half because the Packers had no answer for Kaepernick. He kept plays open because of his ability to move around the pocket. He is so big when he takes off that you can't just hand-tackle him, you need to wrap him up.
But Kaepernick continues to prove that he is more than a one-trick pony. He has an incredible throwing arm, one that actually got him drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft.
Kaepernick's second touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree in the second quarter was perfect. It had enough zip to keep the cornerback from having time to stick a hand in to deflect it away, and was thrown right to the back shoulder where only Crabtree could catch it.
When the 49ers made the change to Kaepernick full-time in Week 11, it was not because Smith did anything wrong when he was the starter. When you are completing 70 percent of your passes, there is not a lot to complain about.
Kaepernick added more to the offense than Smith, though. Smith can scramble, but he is not nearly as elusive as Kaepernick. Smith has a good accurate arm, but Kaepernick has a stronger arm and can throw the ball down the field.
The change was made so the 49ers would be more explosive on offense. There were times when Kaepernick looked like a second-year quarterback with only a handful of starts under his belt, most notably against Seattle in Week 17.
For the most part, though, Kaepernick has never been overwhelmed by the stage he has been on as the starting quarterback for a team that had all the ingredients to win a Super Bowl. After his performance against the Packers, the 49ers' quest for a sixth Lombardi Trophy looks pretty good.
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