49ers vs. Falcons: Why Colin Kaepernick Will Be Key to San Francisco Victory

Ryan DavenportContributor IJanuary 15, 2013

The Atlanta Falcons overcame Russell Wilson and a brutally tough Seattle Seahawks team and earned the chance to take on another fleet-footed quarterback in the NFC Championship Game. 

This time, Atlanta won't be quite so fortunate. 

That's because with Colin Kaepernick is coming off a historic performance against Green Bay, the 49ers will be heading into Atlanta with momentum, and the first-year starter's confidence will be at an all-time high. 

And who wouldn't be feeling good about his chances after throwing for two touchdowns and 263 yards, not to mention setting an NFL single-game record with 181 yards and another pair of scores on the ground?

Atlanta's offense is a high-powered group as well, and with Matt Ryan coming off a clutch performance against Seattle, they're not to be overlooked. 

However, as NFL.com's Marc Sessler wrote after the game, Kaepernick's ability to make plays with both his feet and his arm make him a very challenging matchup, especially for Atlanta. 

Colin Kaepernick, in case you missed it, is a mobile quarterback. The 49ers' second-year passer shattered an NFL postseason record for rushing yards by a quarterback when he torched the Green Bay Packers for 181 and two touchdowns on the ground. More than 90 percent of those yards came with Kaepernick running untouched.

That should put the Falcons on alert. Atlanta struggled to contain Cam Newton this season. The Carolina Panthers quarterback racked up more than 700 yards in two games against Atlanta. In Sunday's win over Seattle, the Falcons let Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson go off to the tune of 385 passing yards, and another 60 running the ball. Big chunks of yardage through the air were the result of Wilson escaping the pass rush and extending plays.

Kaepernick's ability to find the seams in Green Bay's defense, and then maximize yardage by taking off downfield with reckless abandon was the difference-maker in the game, as the Packers couldn't find an answer to his two-pronged attack.

The Kaepernick-lead offense has been a work in progress since the former Nevada star took over for Alex Smith in Week 10, but against the Pack, the 49ers finally seemed to find an ideal balance that was virtually impossible to stop.

Kaepernick and Frank Gore were devastating on the ground, and Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Vernon Davis teamed up adequately with Kaepernick when needed, and that will be the case again on Sunday. 

The Falcons had one of the franchise's greatest seasons ever, but they're running into San Francisco at the wrong time. If Kaepernick plays like he did against Green Bay, the 49ers will roll. 

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