8:00 PM ET, January 12, 2013
Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
Colin Kaepernick sets QB rushing mark as Niners oust Packers
SAN FRANCISCO -- 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 playoff debut -- and Aaron Rodgers just couldn't keep up.
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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-record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Michael Crabtree. Next up for the Niners: a game on Jan. 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 playoff debut it was by the second-year pro making just his eighth NFL start. No doubting Jim Harbaugh's big midseason gamble switching quarterbacks now.
Rodgers never got in sync for the Packers (12-6), finishing 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns.
Kaepernick ran for scores of 20 and 56 yards on the way to topping the rushing mark of 173 yards set by Michael Vick in 2002, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Crabtree caught TD passes of 12 and 20 yards in the second quarter and wound up with nine receptions and 119 yards for the Niners (12-4-1).
Kaepernick, sporting a burgundy beanie partially covering his head, was greeted at his locker after the game by former 49ers quarterback John Brodie.
San Francisco had 579 total yards with 323 on the ground, scoring its third-most points in the franchise's storied playoff 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."
Feather In His Kaep
Colin Kaepernick dizzied the Packers' defense Saturday night, rushing for 181 yards in the Niners' 45-31 victory. The second-year player set a record for most rushing yards by a QB, breaking Michael Vick's old mark. Here's a look:
|* Playoff game|
-- Elias Sports Bureau
Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon each added 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for the No. 2 seed NFC West champions, slim favorites on their home field in a rematch of Week 1. They added to their memorable night by setting a franchise postseason record for yards rushing, 119 of those by Gore to complement Kaepernick.
Rodgers, the former Cal star passed up by San Francisco with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, never got going. Rodgers rooted for the Niners as a kid in Northern California.
This was another early exit for the Packers, who lost in the divisional playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants a year ago and were denied a chance to defend the title they won after the 2010 season.
Those Green Bay road stars of two years ago -- they won three away from Lambeau Field on the way to the Super Bowl -- didn't have it this time against San Francisco's stingy defense and a no-fear, second-year quarterback who would not be denied. A kid who was born in Milwaukee and grew up a big Green Bay fan until the day he was drafted in 2011 out of Nevada.
"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.
With the sellout crowd at Candlestick Park waving red flags reading "Quest for Six" -- a sixth Super Bowl title, that is -- Kaepernick did his part and then some to deliver in the first key step. Even after an early interception that gave Green Bay all the momentum in a hostile road stadium.
Kaepernick had a 56-yard keeper on an option play in the third quarter. That gave him 163 yards on 12 carries, also setting a 49ers franchise record for the postseason.
"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 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 playoff game.
David Akers kicked a 36-yard field goal moments before halftime to give San Francisco a 24-21 lead at intermission after Green Bay tried to ice the struggling veteran by calling timeout before his kick.
Mason Crosby's 31-yard field goal tied the game at 24 midway through the third quarter, then Kaepernick took over again. San Francisco's defense handled the rest.
Kaepernick had 11 carries for 107 yards rushing by halftime.
History On Niners' Side
The 49ers gained 579 yards in Saturday night's rout of the Packers, the most they've ever gained in a playoff game and the fifth time they've gone over 450 in the playoffs. The other four? Each came in Super Bowl wins. Here's a look:
|Jan. 20, 1985*||537||Dolphins|
|Jan. 28, 1990*||461||Broncos|
|Jan. 29, 1995*||455||Chargers|
|Jan. 22, 1989*||452||Bengals|
|* Won Super Bowl|
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Pick-six, no problem.
The strong-armed Kaepernick brushed off the interception he tossed on the fourth play of the game that Sam Shields ran back 52 yards for a touchdown, then took control with his pinpoint passing to his favorite go-to guy -- Crabtree -- and with his quick-burst ability out of the pocket.
"He does a great job of responding," Harbaugh said. "He has done that any time there has been an interception he has thrown, a safety or a turnover, he's responded with a scoring drive. That's rare. I think that's a rare quality. So far he's shown that he's got that ability to come back."
San Francisco, fueled all year by its near miss in overtime of the NFC title game, made it two victories against Rodgers and Co. this season after a 30-22 Week 1 win at Lambeau Field.
Kaepernick bounced back from the early interception and again after a second-quarter taunting penalty in which he threw the ball down in the face of safety M.D. Jennings after being hit by Jennings and Erik Walden. Center Jonathan Goodwin grabbed Kaepernick in an effort to settle him down after his 15-yard run was negated by the 15-yard flag.
Two plays later, Kaepernick found Crabtree for his 20-yard TD as San Francisco capitalized on another Packers turnover.
Rodgers answered right back on the Packers' next chance, driving his team 80 yards on six plays and hitting James Jones on a 20-yard touchdown of his own that tied the game at 21. Green Bay got help from a 15-yard personal foul penalty by Dashon Goldson for a helmet-to-helmet hit on DuJuan Harris.
"We felt like we gift-wrapped them 14 points off turnovers in the first half and our defense was playing all right," Rodgers said. "And then we just didn't get it done in the second half. I knew we were going to have to score some points. We knew we were going to have to put up at least 38 points."
Former California receiver Jeremy Ross fumbled Andy Lee's punt early in the second and C.J. Spillman recovered as San Francisco got the ball back at the 9. Kaepernick threw a 12-yard TD pass to Crabtree three plays later.
Rodgers' streak of 183 passes without an interception spanning the previous five games ended when Tarell Brown picked off the ball on a deep third-down throw in the second quarter. Brown had another interception in the waning moments.
"We expected them to try to get him out on the perimeter. But we didn't expect to let him do what he did," Woodson said. "Give him a lot of credit. He played a great game. He made a lot of great plays out there today. It was hard to swallow."
Harris ran 18 yards for a score in the final minute of the first quarter as Green Bay took a 14-7 lead. Rodgers connected with Jones on a 44-yard completion one play earlier before Harris easily ran right up the middle into the end zone for a Packers team that managed 45 total yards rushing in the season-opening loss.
Such moments were few against a 49ers defense happy to welcome back All-Pro lineman Justin Smith after he missed the final two regular-season games with a partially torn left triceps muscle.
The Green Bay defense gave up the most total yards (579), yards rushing (323) and second-most points in the playoffs in franchise history. ... San Francisco improved to 13-3 at home in divisional playoff games. ... The 49ers had 48 offensive plays in the first half to 20 by Green Bay. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||6.3||7.7|
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||2-3||3-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||1||0|
|TD||12:48||Sam Shields 52 Yd Interception Return (Mason Crosby Kick)||7||0|
|TD||09:01||Colin Kaepernick 20 Yd Run (David Akers Kick)||7||7|
|TD||00:29||DuJuan Harris 18 Yd Run (Mason Crosby Kick)||14||7|
|TD||10:59||Michael Crabtree 12 Yd Pass From Colin Kaepernick (David Akers Kick)||14||14|
|TD||05:26||Michael Crabtree 20 Yd Pass From Colin Kaepernick (David Akers Kick)||14||21|
|TD||02:33||James Jones 20 Yd Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick)||21||21|
|FG||00:00||David Akers 36 Yd||21||24|
|FG||08:25||Mason Crosby 31 Yd||24||24|
|TD||07:07||Colin Kaepernick 56 Yd Run (David Akers Kick)||24||31|
|TD||14:57||Frank Gore 2 Yd Run (David Akers Kick)||24||38|
|TD||03:34||Anthony Dixon 2 Yd Run (David Akers Kick)||24||45|
|TD||00:57||Greg Jennings 3 Yd Pass From Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby Kick)||31||45|
Colin Kaepernick completed six of 11 passes at least 15 yards downfield, including 3-of-3 and a 20-yard touchdown when targeting Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has caught a touchdown pass on such throws in three of his past four games, and has been utilized downfield much more in Kaepernick's eight starts this season, compared with Alex Smith's nine starts. --Kaepernick has completed 53.8 percent of his throws at least 15 yards downfield this season (including postseason), which is second in the NFL (min. 50 attempts).[+]
Michael Crabtree Receiving 15+ Yards Downfield by QB, This Season (inc. postseason)
NEXT LEVEL: The 49ers ran a season-high 34-of-75 (45 percent) plays out of the pistol set Saturday, while averaging 6.9 yards per play. Frank Gore had 16 rushes and a season-high 87 yards out of such sets, tied for the third-most rushes in pistol sets by a player in the past three seasons.
The Packers could not contain Colin Kaepernick as he ran for 178 yards before being contacted (only 3 yards gained after contact). Kaepernick had five scrambles for 75 yards and a 20-yard touchdown in the first half alone. He also collected 99 zone-read option rushing yards, including the game-winning 56-yard touchdown in the third quarter when several Packers over-committed to the running back. --The Packers had not allowed more than 132 rushing yards before contact to a TEAM in a game during the past four seasons. --Kaepernick's 99 option rushing yards are the most by any QB in a game during the past three seasons, and his 75 scramble yards are a personal career high. --Kaepernick rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown out of the pistol set, the most by a QB in the past three seasons. His 12.8 yards per rush was the highest by any rusher out of the pistol in the past five seasons (min. 5 attempts).[+]
Colin Kaepernick Rushing by Play Type, Saturday
The 49ers converted eight of 13 third-down chances (61.5 percent) thanks to Colin Kaepernick's passing and rushing success. Kaepernick was 5-of-7 for 90 yards and a touchdown on third down, and scrambled three times for 53 yards and a touchdown. Entering the game, San Francisco converted 35.1 percent of its third-down opportunities this season, 25th in the league.
The 49ers sent standard pressure against Aaron Rodgers on all but two of his dropbacks, and put him under duress or sacked him on 11 of his 43 dropbacks. Rodgers was limited to 2-of-9 passing for 13 yards on such attempts after recording a league-high 80.1 Total QBR (among qualified quarterbacks) in such situations during his first 17 games.[+]
Aaron Rodgers Passing Under Duress, This Season (inc. postseason)
The 49ers have gained 579 yards in this game, the most they've ever gained in a playoff game in franchise history and the 5th time they've gone over 450. The other 4 games on the list are in the Super Bowl... So, in each of the previous 4 seasons they've gained 450 yards in a playoff game, they won the Super Bowl.[+]
Most Yards in Playoff Game - 49ers Franchise History
ESPN Stats & Information