San Francisco, CA - If there was any doubt as to why Forty-Niners coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go with the younger Colin Kaepernick than with Alex Smith. He proved them all wrong tonight. Making his playoff debut, Kaepernick outshined and outplayed Aaron Rodgers.
Colin lead the 49ers to a 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers. It's hard to imagine the second year pro ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns. In his eighth NFL start, Kaepernick set an NFL postseason record for most single-game rushing yards by a quarterback and a San Francisco 49ers franchise playoff record with 163 rushing yards.
"It feels good, we're one step closer to where we want to be, said Colin. "I feel like I had a lot to prove. A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team. Our offensive line did an amazing job today, they shut everybody down inside. Our receivers, tight ends blocked great outside and our running backs were running hard, so it made it easier on me."
The 49ers advanced to back-to-back NFC title games for the first time since reaching three in a row following the 1992-94 seasons, with 1994 being their last trip to the Super Bowl. They've been here before, with one more game left can San Francisco make it back to the Super Bowl?
"We want to study for the test," Harbaugh said. "Whoever that is that we're playing, and have a great week of preparation. And then come out and compete like maniacs. This is that do-or-die, win-or-go-home kind of situation. So, we'll do things that we've always tried to do as a team and do them to our God-given ability."
Next week is one more hurdle before surpassing that one defeat last season to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. This time there's a different quarterback but the defense remains the same. The 49ers defense completely shutdown the Packers in the second half after a battle in the first. Pick after pick, touchdown after touchdown, both teams were neck and neck in every possible way.
But it was San Francisco that pulled away in the third quarter when Kaepernick got wide open for the touchdown. Then Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon each added a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter leaving Green Bay's defense scrambling to keep up. The 49ers had 579 total yards with 323 on the ground, scoring it's third most points in the franchise storied playoff history.
"We expected them to get him [Colin] out on the perimeter, but we didn't expect to let him do what he did," said Charles Woodson. "I give them a lot of credit, they played a great game and he made plays. It's hard to swallow."
"We got good plays and everybody was up for the challenge," Dashon Goldson said. "We knew what they were going to do, they got some good plays in but we got more and came out on top. In the second half we settled down and knew what we were doing wrong. We as players did a good job communicating with each other to get our momentum back."
While awaiting their opponent for next week, San Francisco is still in shock by the stellar playoff playoff performance from their quarterback. After throwing an interception on opening drive, the Packers Sam Shields returned the pick 52 yards for the touchdown. Kaepernick got even playing one of his best games. What post season pressure and adversity did he face today? None.
"You never really see him open up like that in practice," said Patrick Willis. You see him do the offense and what not but to see him do this in a game... It amazes me. It wows me. I'm just saying 'Wow, did he just do that?'"