Kaepernick leads 49ers to big win
SAN FRANCISCO (AP):
The unproven kid thoroughly beat the former Super Bowl champion and reigning MVP.
With a strong arm that allowed him to pick the Packers apart from the pocket and speedy legs that helped him break free for big gains, Colin Kaepernick did a little bit of everything in a record-setting, sensational play-off debut - and Aaron Rodgers just couldn't keep up.
Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and ran the San Francisco 49ers right back to the NFC championship game with a 45-31 win over Green Bay in an NFC divisional game Saturday night.
Kaepernick rushed for a quarterback play-off record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Michael Crabtree. Next up for the Niners: a game on January 20 for a spot in the Super Bowl, against the winner of Sunday's game between the Seattle Seahawks and Falcons at Atlanta.
"It feels good. We're one step closer to where we want to be,"' Kaepernick said. "I feel like I had a lot to prove. A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team."
And what a play-off debut it was by the second-year pro making just his eighth NFL start. No doubting Jim Harbaugh's big mid-season gamble switching quarterbacks now.
amazing offensive line
Rodgers never got in sync for the Packers (12-6), finishing 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns.
San Francisco had 579 total yards with 323 on the ground, scoring its third-most points in the franchise's storied play-off history.
"Our offensive line did an amazing job today," Kaepernick said. "They shut everybody down inside. Our receivers, our tight ends, blocked great outside, and our running backs were running hard, so it made it easier on me."
Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon each added two-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for the number-two seed NFC West champions, slim favourites on their home field in a rematch of Week One. They added to their memorable night by setting a franchise post-season record for yards rushing, 119 of those by Gore to complement Kaepernick.
"I didn't know how fast he was," Green Bay defensive back Charles Woodson said. "Coming in, I really never paid attention to it. But he is fast."
San Francisco 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 their last trip to the Super Bowl.
"The execution for the 49ers on the read option was excellent, but our issues were bigger than that," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We did not do a very good job of keeping him the pocket. He was able to get out of the pocket for a number of big conversions."
Kaepernick joined Jay Cutler in 2011 and Otto Graham in both 1954 and '55 as the only players with two rushing and two passing touchdowns in a play-off game.