Posted January 05, 2014

First Down/Fourth Down: 49ers advance as Colin Kaepernick foils the Packers again

First Down/Fourth Down, Green Bay Packers, NFC North, NFC West, NFL Playoffs, San Francisco 49ers

Colin Kaepernick kept his magic streak against the Packers alive.

Colin Kaepernick kept his magic streak against the Packers alive. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In three previous games against the Green Bay Packers in his three-year career, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had laid waste to Dom Capers’ defense each time. The result was no different on Sunday, when the 49ers beat Green Bay 23-20 to advance from the wild-card round, though the methods by which Kaepernick torments the Pack seem to change a bit every time. There were the 181 rushing yards he put up in last season’s divisional round victory, an NFL-record for a quarterback in a single game. Then, there were the 414 passing yards in Week 1 of this season — another bravura performance, and another win for the 49ers.

This time, it was a balanced attack. The passing game didn’t always fly through the sub-zero temperatures at Lambeau Field, and Kaepernick was limited to 16 completions in 30 attempts for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception. But his 28-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with 10:31 left in the game put San Francisco up 20-17 — and the 49ers would never trail again. On the final drive that ended with Phil Dawson’s 33-yard game-winning field goal, Kaepernick had a 3rd-and-8 from the Green Bay 38 with 1:13 left in the game, and he ran to the left sideline for an 11-yard gain. It was a huge play, giving him 98 yards rushing on seven carries overall, and yet another example of the Packers’ inability to get a bead on San Francisco’s quarterback.

MORE COVERAGE: Wild-card Snaps | Are Chargers team of destiny? | Schedule, results

“Just trying to figure out a way to get that first down,” Kaepernick told FOX Sports’ Erin Andrews after the game about that run. “We had a play called, and we didn’t get the look that we wanted, and it worked out for us.”

It certainly did. And for the second straight season, the Packers were sent home by the third-year man from Nevada.

• First Down: San Francisco’s defense.

Of course, it wasn’t just Kaepernick who continued this narrative — the 49ers defense did a tremendous job of containing Aaron Rodgers all day. Rodgers is at his best when he’s allowed to leave the pocket when he wants to, giving his talented receivers extra time to win downfield matchups. In this game, endbackers Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald were particularly effective at holding Rodgers in the octagon with their pass-rush concepts. It wasn’t just the season-high four sacks that kept Rodgers to 177 yards on 17 completions — it was also that Rodgers had to manipulate an ever-shrinking pocket. The Packers gained just six yards in the first quarter, and 140 in the first half.

“Aaron’s a guy who, once he gets in rhythm, he makes a lot of plays,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said after the game. “Today, we wanted to keep him in the cage, and we did that for the most part.”

• Fourth Down: Ed Hochuli’s frozen officiating.

Hochuli is generally one of the more busy and verbose officials in the game, but on Sunday, he may have had a greater desire to get out of the Lambeau cold than get his usual facetime allotment on national television. Hochuli’s crew called a total of five penalties in the game, and at least twice that many infractions could have been called. Were Hochuli to serve as his own counsel (he is a lawyer, after all), he could argue that the lack of officiating didn’t affect one team more than another. And in that regard, he’d be correct. Both teams got away with obvious holding and pass interference calls, Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari put on a holding clinic at times, the 49ers got away with an illegal bat on a fourth-quarter kickoff, and Rodgers’ amazing artistry on his fourth-quarter completion to Randall Cobb shouldn’t have even happened, because center Evan Dietrich-Smith was clearly and egregiously holding McDonald on the play.

Perhaps Ed was just trying to avoid any obvious mistakes so that he could stay eligible for a Super Bowl assignment, but his no-calls amounted to quite a few blown calls.

• First Down: Eddie Lacy’s truck stick running style.

One guy San Francisco’s defense had a bit of trouble with was running back Eddie Lacy, the rookie from Alabama who continued the bulldozing running style he’s been so effective with all season. Lacy gained 81 yards on 21 carries, but his effect on the game went far beyond the stats. As he has all season, Lacy established a style that Green Bay’s offense has been missing for years. It’s one that allowed them to match San Francisco’s power-running game muscle for muscle.

Just ask 49ers safety Donte Whitner about that.

(GIF courtesy Bleacher Report)

• Fourth Down: What might have been for the Packers.

With all that legitimate praise for Kaepernick, one wonders what might have happened for the Packers had Rodgers not missed seven full games, and the better part of a eighth, with a collarbone injury. Green Bay was 2-5-1 in those games without Rodgers, and 8-7-1 on the season. He wasn’t at his best against San Francisco’s stout defense, but he almost pulled it off anyway, despite the absence of several injured Green Bay defenders. Rodgers said after the game that he wondered if this was a season of destiny because he and Randall Cobb were able to come back for the playoff run. Maybe in another year. Mike McCarthy’s team can only look back and speculate now.

• First Down: Michael Crabtree’s continued effect on San Francisco’s passing game.

Speaking of with/without comparisons, the 49ers are now 6-0 since Crabtree returned from the torn Achilles’ tendon he suffered in the offseason. Just as it was in last year’s Super Bowl run, Kaepernick and Crabtree continue to show a rare and productive chemistry that manifests itself in many ways. Not only because Crabtree pads the stat sheets, but because he forces defenses to leave things more open for the run, and the attention put on Crabtree in coverage allows other targets to get open and stay open — most notably Vernon Davis. Crabtree led all receivers on both teams with eight catches for 125 yards, and though he didn’t score a touchdown, he proved once again why this team is going to be a very tough out as long as he’s around.

• Fourth Down: John Kuhn’s failed Lambeau Leap.

The burly fullback is a folk hero in Green Bay, but he may lose that status after this awful attempt at a Lambeau Leap following his third-quarter touchdown. Get some vertical, dude.

(GIF courtesy BuzzFeed)

• First Down: Ric Flair’s pre-game pep talk for the 49ers.

Well, no wonder they won. No team is going to drop a game after the Nature Boy gets them going!

50 comments
Samuel3
Samuel3

The Packers had been owned by the Niners, no doubt, but not in this game.  I love the hyperbole that always finds a place no matter how a game transpires.  I predicted before the game that the team to make a mistake would lose, and if no team makes a mistake the last team with the ball will win.  Hardly a thrashing, that could have gone either way and everybody knows it.  That is how the playoffs are, especially the playoffs, given the parity in the regular season.  That's what is so great about the NFL.  Peyton Manning only has one SB ring.  There is no such thing as dominance in the NFL.  For a few moments or plays, maybe a game, but definitely not this one.

lignas41
lignas41

Packers fans will go to sleep all summer long and all they see is Colin Kaepernick running through them once again...owned!!!

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Colin "The Packers Killer" Kaepernick. You gotta love that and you gotta love the heart this kid plays with.

cookielane
cookielane

Love it, the packers are out, out, out, Love it, Love it. I have watched that last series repeatedly.  The person who said Green Bay is not a village is right. Its a metropolis that is the envy of the nation."Not"

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Poor Rodgers is gonna get a lot of hate up in Green Bay considering you got quite a few Duck Dynasty viewers up in those parts.

Joe R2
Joe R2

Have a nice offseason Green Bay!  Enjoy the village shutdown for the next 6 months...

6marK6
6marK6

The 49ers beat the Packers. One team beat another team. Why can't we just leave it at that instead of being compelled to write "Kaepernick and 49ers beat..." or "Manning and Broncos beat..."? ESPN has just killed the concept of team in sports reporting. All about the individual. Although to be fair, if this was ESPN it would have read "Kaepernick defeats Packers" or "Kaepernick defeats Rodgers."

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

 The fact that I had the 49'rs a HUGE victor over the Packers (by 17+) despite BALMY weather....I feel pretty good about the game. The 49'rs are NOT anywhere near as good as I thought, and after the draft this year I hope to see a far BETTER Packer team. Let's face it.....since when do 5-9 to 5-11 CB's/SS match up well against 6-1 to 6-4 WR's? NEVER could figure that one out, and don't blame the rational of EX WR's who can't catch the ball. That's idiotic. The Packers need to get rid of AJ Hawk, and blow up the D-line and O-line. That slow start in the 1st quarter cost them the upset.


P.S. A word to Aaron Rodgers......YOU HANG ON TO THE BALL TO LONG...get it?! YIKES!

Andrew21
Andrew21

Buckle up SF! We KNOCKED OUT Davis and Reid last game. This time Kap and Crabtree are gonna need the smelling salts. Ice up,son! We'll be waiting to ruin your parade. Better keep the Boa's at home sweethearts

x72
x72

lol Rodgers wearing long sleeves & a turtle neck. Prob was wearing a dress underneath all that. Kaepernick went out there and played grown man football.

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Good game, looked like the 49ers were just going through the motions at times and using this as a warm up/scrimmage game. GB D had no chance throughout, score make it look a lot closer than it actually was. SF owned the green & yellow again, better team won.

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

Where the heck is that ElvisHitler RE-RE that said this game was going to be a niners blowout?? Slaughter was the word he used I think, TROLLS should be forced to sit on the boards the day after their predictions completely fall apart. 

cardogpush
cardogpush

maybe with saints & niners winning on the road against inferior teams the NFL's media talking heads will shut u about seeding based on record  vs. divisional title status ..... attn peter king and florio and any one else that is espousing that ridiculous plan. Keep the  importance of winning a division title important.


Chuckster
Chuckster

It wasn't the blowout some of the posters out here were screaming it would be and it was a couple of inches of going the other way for '7'.   Good game by both teams...especially in that frigid weather.

slickwilly
slickwilly

Kaepernick's okay, but he's not really anything special. Lacy lowered the boom on Whitner on that play.

NASA
NASA

Micah Hyde holds onto the ball and Kapernik has no one's number. CK did a fine job, but he would be getting more Dalton-like treatment if that ball is held. One play. 

RobertDwight
RobertDwight

Rogers and McCarthy never gave kudos to 49ers  in the after game interviews. Sore loosers.

Holland
Holland

Good Job Niners!!!! Keep it rolling in Carolina! And go Saints!

Chuckster
Chuckster

@Richard--RamirezAnd I assume Kaepernick is going to get lots of "love" from the SF boys since there are quite a few "Light in the Loafer" types in your area.   Good for him...and probably you. 

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@Joe R2 Green Bay isn't a village, nor is it shut down when there isn't any football being played. Do yourself a favor and look up some FACTS about the area before you start spewing mindless blather all over the internet. 

J57
J57

@Andrew21"We" KNOCKED OUT Davis and Reid last game? Didn't see your name on the roster, unless you're the Carolina shower boy.

J57
J57

@Andrew21So are you a Carolina Pansies fan? You seem to know a lot about boas.

An_Upper_Decker
An_Upper_Decker

@x72kaepernick was born and raised in Wisconsin.  Rodgers in California.

LouPalumbo
LouPalumbo

@cardogpush The difference between Seattle being the 5-seed (and likely not making it past Wildcard Weekend on the road) and the 49ers being the 1-seed (who will probably be in the NFC Championship either way);  Blow to the Neck call on Drew Brees.....That's it....


Even the Schuab free "here...please take the game" pick 6 against seattle could have swung it.  Seattle isn't better than the 49ers..

bbc
bbc

@slickwilly He delivers when it counts. I'd say that makes him special.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@NASAA couple of inches and it was a different outcome.   Nature of the beast in any sport.

JohnAlport1
JohnAlport1

@NASAOK.  one play.  I'll give you 7 things that went against SF.  1.2.3.  Three defenders literally malled Crabtree all day; 2 times were in the end-zone.  Call either one and SF is on the 2.  The announcers called it about 5 times.  4.  Kap DOESN'T throw a stupid interception pass that led to GB 7 points.  5..  Third play of game, RB fumbles the ball right out in the open backfield.  Luck (not skill) lets GB happen to recover the ball.  Don't recover it luckily and SF has the ball on GB 28.  6.  Two SF pass rushers collide while sacking Rodgers, only to let Rodgers escape to the right and complete a big pass.  They'll be calling it "the miracle escape" for years. 7.  SF has to play in arctic GB because of the quirk of rules that has a 12-4 team travel to a what(?) 8-win team from a terrible division. 


GB could not contain Crabtree, giving him 125 yards. GB could not contain Kap.  They focused on Gore and malling Crabtree and their game plan didn't work.  SF contained Rodgers, not giving up the big play.  SF did "good-enough " containment of Lacey, at 81 yards. This was their stated game plan and they succeeded.  Look at Rodgers stats.  Even Rodgers said he was totally disappointed with his own performance.  Actually,  I don't think he did anything wrong.  He was sacked, hurried and his receivers were covered.


And with all of this, you hang your hat on one near-interception thrown by a QB with frozen hands throwing a brick for a football in the frozen hinterlands.  Total offense for GB was 281 yards, 100 yards less than SF.  You know, a team CAN win a game like GB played --- but that's far different from saying they deserve to win.

JohnAlport1
JohnAlport1

@RobertDwightI saw the same thing.  I've seen many other coaches and players act better.  The funny thing is that Rodgers blamed his own performance.  Funny, I don't think he did anything wrong.  He was hurried, sacked, and chased all day.  He dinked it here and shoveled it there, but his receivers were covered.  He really should have just said that SF came up with right defense against his passing game.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

@An_Upper_Decker@x72Not "raised in Wisconsin" but "raised in Turlock CA"l. The only time he was close to those kind of temperatures was when he opened the freezer to get out the ice cream.

Chuckster
Chuckster

@Richard--Ramirez@slickwilly Juvenile.  Where's the blowout?  Where's the destruction you were so adamant about?   Where's the crushing defeat?   The Pack lost and SF knows it's lucky to get out of Lambeau with that one.

slickwilly
slickwilly

@Holland@slickwilly True, but it doesn't change the fact that Kaepernick's not a top 10 quarterback. Russell Wilson in Seattle is a lot better.

Thundrra
Thundrra

@DennyCrane @An_Upper_Decker @x72 Yeah.  He did grow up in WI for a significant part of his life.  Look at his own twitter feed where he's posing in front of Lambeau field with a Favre jersey. He was like 8 years old.


seahawk77
seahawk77

@WCoastPro@slickwilly@HollandSo you give CK a pass because he didn't have his star receivers?  And who does Russell have in that category?  RW anyday!  Especially since you don't have to see the narcissistic pose when he gets touchdowns. Russell has quietly set a new record for most wins for a rookie in his first 2 years, and tied Peyton's touchdown record for his first year. 

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@slickwilly @Holland No. Not a lot better. They're comparable. CK has better receivers than RW and will continue to put up great numbers. He was held in check without Crabtree and Davis this season.