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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
QBR ranks: Kaepernick living in the 90s

By Mike Sando

Two young NFC West quarterbacks became bowl eligible this week: Seattle's Russell Wilson for the Pro Bowl and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick for the Super Bowl.

Not bad for two players drafted outside the first round and projected to serve as backups when training camps opened.

Two first-half throws from Kaepernick stood out to me during the 49ers' 28-24 victory over Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game. Both were notable because they continued Kaepernick's tendency to play well following a setback.

The first throw found tight end Vernon Davis for a 27-yard gain on third-and-7.

Kaepernick had taken a delay penalty on third-and-2 amid intense crowd noise in the Georgia Dome. The 49ers trailed, 17-0, and every possession was precious. That delay penalty easily could have derailed the drive. Instead, Kaepernick stood strong in the pocket while Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon barreled toward him on a delayed blitz. The quarterback waited for Davis to come open across the middle and led him with an accurate throw. The play gained 27 yards and set up the 49ers' first touchdown.

The second pass in question found Davis for 19 yards on second-and-16 from the San Francisco 12-yard line with 5:12 left in the second quarter.

Officials had flagged 49ers guard Mike Iupati for holding a couple plays earlier. The Falcons led, 17-7, and field position was threatening to give Atlanta more points before the half. The 49ers picked up the Falcons' five-man pressure, giving Kaepernick time to rifle the pass through coverage. Safety Thomas DeCoud broke on the ball and tried to intercept it, but the pass had too much velocity.

Kaepernick added a 23-yard scramble later in the drive, followed by a 25-yard strike to Davis. Those plays set up another 49ers touchdown. The 17-0 deficit was down to 17-14 and the 49ers were back in the game.

Those types of plays help explain why Kaepernick has the NFL's highest Total QBR score (94.1) and second-highest passer rating (105.9) in the playoffs this season.

Kaepernick has a 7-2 record in nine regular-season and postseason starts. No player since at least 2001 has a higher winning percentage or average gain per pass attempt (8.6 yards) than Kaepernick through his first nine starts. No player has a higher QBR score through nine starts (84.0) since 2008, the earliest year for which charting data is available.

Kaepernick posted a 92.6 out of 100 QBR score in the victory over Atlanta. He was at 94.7 against Green Bay a week earlier. No other quarterback in the playoffs this season -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Matt Schaub among them -- has posted even one score in the 90s this postseason. Kaepernick has done it in each of his two career playoff games. He owns two of the 11 postseason scores in the 90s since 2008. Kurt Warner is the only other player with two 90-plus playoff games over that five-year span.

The chart below shows QBR scores for championship-round quarterbacks. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info.