Championship game offensive keys
Breaking down the game plans of the 49ers, Falcons, Pats, Ravens
On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick mesmerized fans -- and the Green Bay Packers' defense -- with his phenomenal athleticism and track-star speed. The performance was truly spectacular and predictably left a lot of people fixating on the read-option offense as the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.
But before we all get swept up in the commotion, allow me to say this: The read-option is not the focal point of the 49ers' offense. Yes, it's explosive. Yes, it frustrates opponents. But it is not the core of what San Francisco wants to do when it has the football.
After following all four of these final teams in the film room throughout the 2012 season, I've found that each team has a distinct, fundamental approach to offense it will turn to more often than not. It's those foundational offensive principles -- and the opposition's ability to stop them -- that will decide which teams advance to the Super Bowl.
For the Niners, that signature concept isn't the read-option but rather the power run game. Coach Jim Harbaugh has rolled in plenty of gadget plays and tricky wrinkles over the season, but pure and simple, San Francisco wants to punch its opponents in the mouth. If the Falcons want to advance to the Super Bowl, they will have to find a counterpunch.
For more on the four offenses in Sunday's championship games -- and how to stop them -- you must be an ESPN Insider.