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Colin Kaepernick, making only his ninth NFL start, led the San Francisco 49ers back from a three-score deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in his first road playoff game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. This is how legends are made.
While it was far from a perfect performance for San Francisco, this team showed just how battle tested it is by overcoming the largest deficit to win a NFC Championship Game. It did so with a green quarterback and in a hostile environment.
If you are still questioning Jim Harbaugh's decision to "bench" Alex Smith in lieu of Kaepernick, you may want to take a step back. After all, it could easily be stated that the 49ers wouldn't be in the Super Bowl without Kaepernick.
The second-year quarterback has compiled five total touchdowns and just one interception for a 105.9 rating in his first two postseason starts.
Meanwhile, it was the read option that baffled the Mike Nolan-led Falcons defense. While they were able to contain Kaepernick, it struggled against the likes of Frank Gore and LaMichael James, who gained 124 yards and three scores on the ground. It is that type of guessing game that makes San Francisco's offense so damn hard to stop.
The 49ers will assuredly enjoy a couple days basking in the glory of their first Super Bowl appearance in 18 seasons, but they now have to start getting prepared for a Baltimore Ravens team that is clicking on all cylinders following an impressive victory last night in New England.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that San Francisco passed what has to be the biggest test of the playoffs. It went into a hostile environment against a 13-win Atlanta team, fell down by three scores and came back to win. Playing in a more neutral environment in New Orleans will seem like a home-field advantage in two weeks.
Get ready for a solid two weeks of coverage about the Harbaugh brothers, what diapers they wore, who won the first fight and which one stopped wetting his bed first.
Yeah I know, this could get old relatively quickly.
As it relates to the Super Bowl, San Francisco is favored and will remain favored. It seems to matchup pretty well against Baltimore. As I indicated in the previous slide, the read option will definitely play a role here.
On the other hand, Baltimore does have some favorable mismatches heading into the game. Torrey Smith is a major deep threat that San Francisco will have to hone in on moving forward, especially after Julio Jones torched it in the first half on Sunday.
While the 49ers haven't given up a lot of huge plays in the passing game, fourth overall against the pass during the regular season, they have struggled in this aspect of the game over the last few weeks.
As it is, San Francisco proved that it is the best team in the NFC just a little more than a year after it was unceremoniously kicked out of the playoffs in overtime last January. At the very least, this takes a little sting out of that loss.
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