NFC West: 2014 Wild Card 49ers-Packers
January, 5, 2014
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesColin Kaepernick threw for 227 yards and ran for 98 to power the 49ers past the Packers again.GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone heard the fans at Lambeau Field moan, he knew quarterback Colin Kaepernick was destroying the Green Bay Packers once again.
“Everyone yelled and got quiet,” Boone said. “I knew Colin was at it again.”
It was third-and-8 from the Green Bay 38-yard line with 1:13 with the NFC wild-card game tied at 20. Had the 49ers failed to convert, it is unlikely a long field goal in frigid weather would have been attempted. Getting the first down was paramount.
So, the 49ers relied on their young quarterback who, despite his lack of experience, is proving to be an elite postseason performer.
When his first receiving option wasn't there, Kaepernick darted toward the 49ers’ sideline for 11 yards and the first down. Five plays later, kicker Phil Dawson hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the 49ers a 23-20 victory and send them to Carolina to face the Panthers Sunday in the NFC divisional round.
“It was a signature play,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “But we’ve come to expect that.”
Especially against Green Bay. Kaepernick has started just 27 NFL games. But he has become a certified Packers killer. It has to be getting on the nerves of Green Bay fans. After all, Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and lived in Fond du Lac for the first four years of his life.
Since last January, Kaepernick has led the 49ers to three wins over the Packers including two in the playoffs. He was spectacular in all three, accounting for combined 1,201 total yards.
Last year, in divisional round against the Packers, Kaepernick ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards. In Week 1 of this season, Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards.
This time, Kaepernick beat the Packers both in the air and on the ground. He finished with 227 yards passing and 98 rushing. Whenever Kaepernick had to make a play Sunday, he did.
“He was phenomenal,” Boone said. “One big play clutch plays after another.”
None were bigger than his last carry, though.
Had Kaepernick failed to get a first down, the game would have likely gone to overtime. Instead, as Kaepernick sprinted past his teammates on the sidelines and the first-down marker, it was obvious to all -- he was leading the 49ers to another win over the Packers.
Kaepernick said his first option on the play was receiver Michael Crabtree, who had his biggest game of the season since returning from a torn Achilles, but the one-on-one play didn’t develop.
“It didn’t look good to me,” Kaepernick said. “So I tried to make something happen.”
Added Roman: “We saw some things on film and knew there would be some certain opportunities. Colin saw it and went. And I’m glad he did. That was the huge play of the ball game.”
Kaepernick had success running all game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, had 85 scramble yards on four of his rushes Sunday. It was the second highest scramble total of the NFL season. Seattle’s Russell Wilson had 91 scramble yards against the Colts in Week 5. Kaepernick’s ground success was typical of his playoff success. In four playoff games, Kaepernick is averaging 11.0 yards before contact per rush.
“He was around the edge so fast,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of his quarterback. “If it was one yard, it was 20 yards.”
Kaepernick has been playing at a high level for the past seven games, in which the 49ers are undefeated. A big reason for Kaepernick's improved play has been the return of Crabtree, which may be a sign of things to come as the 49ers try to extend their postseason run. Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards.
Crabtree allows Kaepernick more freedom. That was evident on the game-clinching run. On that play, Crabtree was covered, but it helped open Kaepernick’s lane. Harbaugh marveled at his quarterback’s ability to strike at the biggest moment.
“[He’s] somebody that answers in the clutch time of the game, on the important down,” Harbaugh said. “He’s Kaepernick tough and I think it’s pretty awesome.”
January, 5, 2014
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few observations from the 49ers’ 23-20 win over Green Bay on Sunday:
What it means: The 49ers are moving on. They survived severe cold and vintage Aaron Rodgers to win in the final seconds. San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the 49ers the win. They will play at Carolina next week. The 49ers are 13-4, winners of seven straight and 12 of their past 14 games.
Stock watch: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick won the game with big runs, including a huge 11-yard run on third-and-long on the final drive. Kaepernick had 98 yards rushing on seven carries. It was his third huge game -- and third victory -- against the Packers in less than a year.
Crabtree shines: The 49ers had hoped Michael Crabtree would be ready to dominate in the playoffs, and he did. He had eight catches for 125 yards. It was his best game since returning Dec. 1 from a torn Achilles tendon that he had suffered in May.
Timeout trouble: The 49ers blew two timeouts early in each half. The worst was before the first offensive play of the second half. Apparently, Kaepernick forgot his wrist play sheet. Timeouts were an issue all season, but this took it to the next level.
What’s next: The 49ers play at Carolina in the NFC divisional round at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Panthers beat the 49ers 10-9 in San Francisco on Nov. 10. It was one of the more physical battles of the season.