Posted January 13, 2013

First Down/Fourth Down: Colin Kaepernick’s amazing night paces 49ers

First Down/Fourth Down, Green Bay Packers, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick (left) and Michael Crabtree combined for two touchdowns through the air. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Colin Kaepernick (left) and Michael Crabtree combined for two touchdowns through the air. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Heading into Sunday’s Green Bay-San Francisco showdown, it was fair to wonder if 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, in his first postseason appearance, could keep pace with Aaron Rodgers.

By the time the game ended, the better question was: How is anyone going to stop Kaepernick and this San Francisco offense?

En route to a 45-31 dismantling of the Packers, Kaepernick turned in one of the finest performances ever seen by an NFL quarterback, playoffs or otherwise. His 181 yards on the ground set a new record, breaking Michael Vick’s single-game QB rushing mark (173). Kaepernick also became the first player in NFL history to throw for 175 yards and rush for 175 yards in the same game — he finished with 263 through the air.

The 49ers finished with 579 total yards, including a team playoff record 323 rushing.

After Sam Shields staked Green Bay to an early 7-0 lead with a pick-6 of Kaepernick, the 49ers’ offense kicked into high gear and never slowed down. In their 10 drives following that Kaepernick mistake, the 49ers scored six touchdowns and kicked one field goal, and one of the three non-scoring “drives” came at the end of the game, with the 49ers kneeling twice to run the clock out.

The performance made clear that Kaepernick is here to stay as a potential superstar in this league … and that the 49ers may be the team to beat for the Super Bowl title.

More ups and downs from San Francisco’s convincing 14-point win:

First Down: Michael Crabtree.

People talked a lot all year about Dez Bryant maturing and developing into an elite wide receiver. Well, Crabtree’s right there with him.

The fourth-year pro has done a lot of growing up under Jim Harbaugh’s tutelage, and he turned in a dominant performance Saturday, giving Kaepernick an extremely reliable target through the air. Crabtree finished with nine catches for 119 yards, including a pair of touchdowns that turned a 14-7 San Francisco deficit into a 21-14 lead.

As on the first of those TDs, when he gained inside position on Sam Shields and made a terrific catch over the middle, Crabtree showed the ability to use his body in traffic. When Kaepernick put the ball where he could catch it, Crabtree made it so the Packers could do nothing to defend him.

Fourth Down: Jeremy Ross.

Ross had his hand in one play — and it was a game-changer for the Packers.

With Green Bay up 14-7 early in the second, Ross muffed a punt return inside his own 10. San Francisco recovered, setting up the first of those two Kaepernick-to-Crabtree TD passes. Up until that point in the game, the Packers had the upper hand and were doing a nice job against the San Francisco offense. But Ross’ miscue turned the tide.

The Packers were using Ross back deep to keep a banged-up Randall Cobb out of harm’s way. That choice backfired huge.

First Down: Joe Staley.

At one point during Saturday’s first half, FOX’s cameras caught Staley, the 49ers’ left tackle, grimacing in obvious pain on the sideline. But despite battling a right arm injury, Staley more than held his own against Packers’ pass rusher extraordinaire Clay Matthews. With Staley stymieing Matthews, the 49ers were free to explore their entire playbook.

Fourth Down: Clay Matthews.

And, a good game for an offensive tackle usually means a bad game for a key defensive player. It was Matthews in the Packers’ case — he was held to just three tackles (though he added a sack), and consistently found himself out of place when Kaepernick utilized the zone-read.

Without Matthews being able to seal the edge, the Packers had no luck trying to dictate what San Francisco could do offensively. Hence, a 45-point explosion.

First Down: James Jones. 

In what may have been his final game as a Green Bay Packer, Greg Jennings had a disappointing night. He caught a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers in the game’s final seconds, but Jennings also let a key 3rd-and-5 deep ball from Rodgers slip through his fingers — for all intents and purposes, ending Green Bay’s chances.

Jones stepped up in a big way this season for the Packers, as injuries ravaged their receiving corps. He enjoyed another solid game Saturday, scoring on one of his four catches and making a sensational leaping grab on a 44-yard bomb from Rodgers.

The league leader in TD receptions during the regular season, Jones might inherit the Packers’ top receiving spot next season. He certainly looks ready for more.

Fourth Down: Dom Capers and the Packers’ defensive game plan.

Capers drew up the Xs and Os for a Packers defense that overachieved this season — Green Bay ranked 11th in both points and yards allowed. Still, Saturday’s massive defensive letdown will not sit well with Packers fans, especially after the 2011 season ended with Capers’ D allowing 37 points in a playoff loss to the Giants.

Green Bay, which faced only two option plays the entire regular season, did not appear to have a real plan for dealing with Kaepernick. Even some halftime adjustments, designed to keep the San Francisco QB in the pocket, failed miserably.

First Down: The zone-read offense.

In Capers’ defense (pun intended?), even a stalwart effort might have gone to waste. The 49ers looked invincible after Kaepernick’s early interception — and that includes everyone from the QB himself to Gore to the receivers to the offensive line. Everything clicked at the right moment.

And, as if the successes of Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Kaepernick had not pushed the needle toward more teams implementing zone-read offenses, the 49ers’ playoff performance might just do that.

It takes the right guy to run it, of course — even Kaepernick might have bombed given the chance last season, before he had a year to refine his passing ability. But when the QB is in charge to the extent that Kaepernick was Saturday, and he is surrounded by a talented supporting cast, there is only so much an opposing defense can do.

Fourth Down: Dumb 49ers penalties.

Sure, this is a little nitpicking just for the sake of slapping one “Fourth Down” on the 49ers. Still, San Francisco cannot expect to cruise to victories in the NFC title game and (potentially) the Super Bowl, as it did Saturday.

So, eliminating some unnecessary errors could be key. Kaepernick took a silly 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after scrambling for a first down — he spiked the ball in celebration, part of a constant back-and-forth jawing he had with the Packers’ defense. And his teammate, Dashon Goldson, was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit as he dove on a pile late to deliver a blow to DuJuan Harris.

The 49ers finished with eight penalties for 86 yards on the game. That number, obviously, did not come back to haunt them in the end, but they might not be as lucky going forward.

21 comments
EdyneoantRoyalCastle
EdyneoantRoyalCastle

Oh bye the way ,I am now 7-1 in picking these play-off games with my only loss coming when I picked the Vikings who lost to the Packers last weekend and 8-1 overall if you count My ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDES 42-14 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BCS VICTORY OVER NOTRE MS. DAME ,THE PUNCHLESS FIGHTING IRISH ,THAT I SAID ON ANOTHER SITE SHOULD OF NEVER EVER BEEN THERE IN THE 1st PLACE AND THE IRISH PROVED ME RIGHT BY EMBARASSING THEMSELVES ,IN WHICH THE OREGON DUCKS GOT ROBBED FROM NOT PLAYING IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AND SHOULD OF BEEN THERE INSTEAD. OF NOTRE MS. DAME ?WELL I GUESS THAT I AM HOT IN MY PICKS ,so I guess that this how you do it ,Oh YES MY WAY ,AND THAT'S THE ONLY WAY THAT THIS WINNER DOES IT,CAN YOU DIG IT & HANDLE IT ,HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA,BECAUSE I KNOW I AM THE BEST THERE IS OUT THERE ,EVERY WHERE ,AND I'M STAYING THE MAN KING OF THE MOUNTAIN ,SO YOU MANLY little girls of you suppose ably MEN OUT ,COME KNOCK THIS MAN I AM YOU ALL WISH TO BE LIKE IN YOUR NIGHTLY PRAYERS & DAILY WISHES ,COME AND KNOCK ME ,YOUR KING OFF MY MOUNTAIN ,I DARE YOU MY PEASANT SLAVES,IF YOU HAVE ANY GUTS LEFT IN YOU OR BLOOD RUNNING THROUGH YOUR VIENS ?????????????

EdyneoantRoyalCastle
EdyneoantRoyalCastle

Now that we know the final 4 teams to see who goes on to the Superbowl on 2/3/2013 ,I'll go out on a limb and take The NE PATRIOTS over The RAVENS ,& take THE SAN FRAN 49ERS over a slacking FALCOLNS team as of lately ? My early season pick was the NE PATRIOTS playing. THE FALCONS in THE. SUPERBOWL but after seeing the falcons Struggle as of lately and almost lose a game at HOME to the SEAHAWKS in which they blew a 20pt lead and then fell behind 28-27 but managed to escape with a game winning FG to retake the lead 30-28 with 8 seconds to go in the game and won by the skin of thier teeth With the HOME ,WIN? Atlanta will not be able to play like this or the way they have been playing as of lately against these 49ERS to whom will come at you with a running QB Kaepernick as dangerous as Frank Gore will be ? So I will GUARANTEE A 49ERS VICTORY Over the FALCOLNS on SUNDAY 1/20/2013 ,hands down ?Now in the NE PATRIOTS & RAVENS GAME ,take the NE PATRIOTS to Win OUTRIGHT due to whereas the RAVENS are coming off a hard fought win in 2OTS ,in DENVER ,and on the road? I expect that the RAVENS will come out flat vs the NE PATRIOTS and thier explosive offensive ,plus as the 2nd seed the NE PATRIOTS have won 2 SUPERBOWLS ,the other SUPERBOWL WIN was as a WILDCARD and being home and with Revenge on thier mind from an earlier season Loss to these same Ravens on a controversial call by the replacement referees on either a Sunday / Monday Night Game a few months back,and how can you not like or go with the BEST QB IN THE WHOLE NFL IN #1 TOM BRADY ,the now winningest playoff QB of ALL-TIMES ,and you can take that to the BANK $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$?

bbc
bbc

I wonder where are all the naysayers who were calling out Harbaugh for going with Kaepernick and benching Alex Smith. Seems like Harbaugh knew what he was doing and Kaepernick has added a new dimension to this 49ers team which makes them an explosive team from just a solid one. I'm sure this 49ers team with Kaepernick under center will not go down to Giants the way they did early this year (26-3) with Alex Smith as the QB.

EdyneoantRoyalCastle
EdyneoantRoyalCastle

Wow everybody does'nt get it in every sport that is played ,referees control the game and make calls to keep Las Vegas still going on strong on whether it is a good , bad , or contreversial call whatsoever?You can't beat Las Vegas NEVER ,cause if you beat Las Vegas ,then the House folds and goes broke and you won't have nowhere to collect your winnings ,so the games are PREDETERMINED, its fixing is there like fake wrestling matches but better hidden and outplayed ,but it is surely there for sure Because it is a game for sure at that ?For Example :when the Patriots went to the Superbowl when they were 16-0 against the NY GIANTS ,Tom Brady was faced masked in the game and no call was made ,and the Superbowl has extra referees and cameras ,they seen but because of technicalities of the game ,the blew it off and pretended that it never happened ,this is what All referees do ,and its in all games played and thats whats they are paid to do ?The next Playoff game you watch ,watch the referees 1st,QB 2nd and the plays in the middle and keep count of the penalties and when they are called ,penaties are chain caller calls to either move a team up field because of the score or to move a team backwards due to a score,its all about the POINTSPREAD that is between the teams that are playing or the odds at stake ?I bet you believe that there have been great horses and so called horses ,ask the jockey aboard the horse on how strong he has the reigns around the horse or how loosley he has it to breathe and run and not to choke and run ,this is yet another of fixing the sport ,so when you say that the referee is making a bad call ,he's just doing on what he is told to do on whether it is right or wrong ,they control the game ,including booth review or instant replay ,Get It About A referees job?

EdyneoantRoyalCastle
EdyneoantRoyalCastle

Wow what a record performance by a rookie 49ers QB against a quality Green Bay Packers team & thier quality QB Aaron Rogers in the playoff with an astounding game setter by Colin Kaepernick ?Kaepernick was all over the field and game against the Packers. Kaepernick threw 2TDS,1INT, and throwing for 263YDS and hitting 17 of 31 for passes ,but that was not the story of the night for Kaepernick who also was unstoppable on offensive and running for 20 & 56 yard runs for TDS and 16 runs for 181yards and breaking Michael Vicks playoff record of 119yds by 62yds,which broke the record when Kaepernick ran for 56Yds,as he led the 49ers to a 45-31 playoff victory over Green Bay ? Aaron Rogers never got settled in at QB ,going 26 for 39 for 257yds and 1INT & 2TDS ? Kaepernick was a game time decision to be at QB and it turned out to be the right choice to make .San Fran 49ers now await the winner of Seahawks ,Falcons game to see who they will,meet in next weeks Conference Championship game,while pulling for a rematch with the Seattle Seahawks? Besides Kaepernick offensive explosion ,he also had help by Frank Gore as the Packers never really threatened after going up early 7-0 and faced and uphill battle there after ?

jhymas25
jhymas25

I was wondering what you thought of the refs this game, as I know you complained that they did a bad job on the last one. I watched the entire game and was rooting for the 49ers (closest team to my home), but some of the calls seemed iffy at best. I know it didn't matter in the end, but the pass interference that negated Rogers interception with about a minute left looked like obvious offensive interference. When I saw it live I thought, "Nelson clearly pushed off" and the same thing when I saw the replay. I was so surprised at the call. And then as others mentioned the one on Kaepernick seemed not great either. Am I letting these two calls influence my view on the entirety of the reffing (I thought is was bad) or was this another strike against these mixed "superstar" ref teams?

Rick56
Rick56

The Niners had too many weapons tonight that they were unstoppable. With Crabtree, Kaepernick, Gore, and company, the Packers defense were spiraling into confusion.

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

The 15 yard penalty against Kaepernick was beyond laughable.  That ref should be thrown out of the league--now.  You're working a Championship game, the QB gets nailed in the head, he pops up and pops off and you decide that's the time to throw a flag?  Ridiculous.

 

Go ref high school...in North Dakota...what a tool.

bbc
bbc

 @EdyneoantRoyalCastle

 Dude, your team lost. Accept it and move on. 49ers were clearly the better team and no ref could have changed the fact. maybe if Dom Capers had actually tried to stop Kaepernick's scrambling instead of calling brainless & ineffective blitzes, it could have actually made the difference. To me Dom Capers was pretty poor and should be canned for his performance last night. And that muffed punt didn't help matters either.

brook.paul
brook.paul

 @EdyneoantRoyalCastle Las Vegas doesn't care who wins they set the odds or the  spread based on how much money is bet on each side and no matter the outcome they break even on the bets and collect an extra 10% from the losers. That's how they make money. So to summarize they don't care who wins.

BigBears
BigBears

 @EdyneoantRoyalCastle So, what's all this has to do with last night's game?.

If you are suggesting that the refs helped the 9ers I would like to remind you that they were penalized more than the Packers, rightly so I might add. The refs did a pretty good job, and were not a factor on the outcome of the game, as it should be. The better team won, plain and simple.

ashton3727
ashton3727

@EdyneoantRoyalCastle lmao okayyyyyyy bud relax... You sound like a sad, bitter Packers fan.

River Rat
River Rat

 @EdyneoantRoyalCastle Dude, what the hell are you drinking? Kaepernick was NOT a game time decision. So far, your two posts have been completely off the mark.

Puppy
Puppy

 @DavidHarte

 your  complaint  is  with  the  rule...the  ref  called  the  rule  correctly...you  spike or spin  the  ball  on  the  field  of  play(end zone excluded)...15  yards 

Rick56
Rick56

 @DavidHarte That was the dumbest penalty i have ever seen.  Regardless, the Niners still scored...

EdyneoantRoyalCastle
EdyneoantRoyalCastle

@bbc First of all i am not dude ,like you are some drown out hippie on drugs,2nd of all i am not a Packers fan but a Dallas Cowboy since the late 60's early 70's era and my Cowboys are not there because Tony Romo SUCKS as a QB ,3rd off all i am 5-1 so far in these playoffs depending on how ATLANTA & THE PATRIOTS do in thier games and is having a GREAT sports week after watching my ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE DESTROY NOTRE MS. DAME 42-14 in the BCS NATIONAL CHAMPION GAME FOR THIER 3rd CHAMPIONSHIP & 15th OVERALL: ROLL TIDE ,BAMA HAMMER SLAMMER ,plus i picked the UNDERDOGS BALTIMORE RAVENS to UPSET THE DENVER little pony BRONCOS And thier QB MISS PEYTON MANNING and thier Defense who fell ASLEEP on a 70yd drive from FLACCO to JACOBY JONES with a little over a minute to play in the game to tie the game up after a FG and then PEYTON MANNING blew it for the Broncos by kneeling down to let the clock run out and wasting 2'timeouts that could of given the Broncos a couple of more plays but QB MISS PEYTON MANNING screwed up and kneed on down like the SISSY he really is ,because he could'nt crack his chestnuts and got burnt in OT in a OPEN MISSFIRE that resulted in PEYTON MANNING throwing a INT,OH WHAT A DANCE & LOOKING towards the HEAVENS I was doing then ,and then a few plays later,FG 38-35 RAVENS VICTORY,GOODBYE,MISS PEYTON MANNING ,GLAD TO SEE YOU LOSER ELIMINATED ?Now what have you done lately little girl in a MANS WORLD OF OURS ,thinking You know it all,SNOB?

BIGHEADBROD
BIGHEADBROD

@EdyneoantRoyalCastle sick punctuation too! Is English yur first language? You are a moron.

jhymas25
jhymas25

 @Puppy  @DavidHarte I believe (although I did not look it up) that the rule is just against spiking, as it seems players spin the ball on the field often. I think they called Kaepernick for throwing it at the defenders face. Again I could be wrong on this ruling. I thought it was a bad call though, the ball did not seem to be thrown at the defenders face. 

River Rat
River Rat

 @jhymas25  @Puppy  @DavidHarte It was a flag for taunting. I didn't like it, as I agree with DavidHarte's explanation. But it was the right call, I guess. As a 9er fan I would have felt better had it not be called. Fortunately, SF scored on the drive.