2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Kaepernick gives 49ers new look in NFC title game

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-13 14:39

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Colin Kaepernick stood in a cramped corner of the 49ers' locker room smiling and chatting with Alex Smith late Saturday night when a stranger interrupted the two quarterbacks.

``Wow, great game,'' said former franchise quarterback John Brodie, shaking Kaepernick's hand and patting him on the back. ``Nice to meet you.''

After a record-setting playoff debut that sent San Francisco to the NFC championship game for the second straight season, Kaepernick needs no more introductions.

The second-year pro out of Nevada squashed all the questions and uncertainty about Jim Harbaugh's late-season decision to supplant Smith as the starter in a 45-31 rout of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick is quickly becoming a household name, and his touchdown celebration - flexing his right arm and kissing his biceps - is trending all over social media.

Tebowing? No, call it Kaepernicking.

Riding his strong legs and right arm, the 49ers (12-4-1) are back where they were a year ago and seemingly more dangerous and daring than when the eventual champion New York Giants eliminated them last January. San Francisco will play the winner of Sunday's game between Seattle and Atlanta for another chance at a Super Bowl berth.

``All the credit goes to him,'' said rookie running back LaMichael James, another part of the dynamic read-option run game. ``When he's making that read, he knows when to give it. He knows when to pull it. He's taking off. He's faster than most people on the defense. He's doing everything for us right now.''

In the air and on the ground, Kaepernick confirmed Harbaugh's much-debated move more than anybody could have imagined in 60 minutes of playoff football.

The tattoo-tattered quarterback from nearby Turlock overcame an early interception returned for a touchdown and ran for scores of 20 and 56 yards, topping the rushing mark of 119 yards set by Michael Vick in 2005 when Atlanta beat St. Louis. He also threw TD passes of 12 and 20 yards to go-to target Michael Crabtree, who finished with nine receptions and 119 yards in the NFC divisional matchup.

San Francisco racked up 579 total yards with 323 on the ground, scoring its third-most points in the franchise's storied playoff history. Kaepernick also joined Jay Cutler in 2011 and Otto Graham in both 1954 and 1955 as the only players with two rushing and two passing touchdowns in a playoff game.

``It's been amazing and I couldn't ask for anything more,'' Kaepernick said.

``Guys playing football. He's making it happen,'' Crabtree said. ``With his feet, with his arm, he's just out there making plays. He's a playmaker.''

That's something San Francisco sorely lacked last January.

Throw out the grind-it-out game that propelled the 49ers as far as a 20-17 overtime loss to the Giants a year ago. With a strong arm and quick-burst ability out of the pocket, Kaepernick has given the offense an added dimension - and maybe some moxie, too - that was missing in the championship game.

Crabtree's one catch for 3 yards accounted for all of the production from San Francisco wide receivers against New York. While Kyle Williams bore most of the blame for his two fumbled punts, Smith and the offense struggled to move the ball and put the pressure on the defense most of the night.

Maybe no more.

All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis credited Kaepernick and Co. for bailing out the defense against the Packers, especially in the first half, when Kaepernick had 11 carries for 107 yards rushing to give the 49ers a 24-21 lead. The unproven quarterback simply ran away from Green Bay in the second half, and the reigning MVP couldn't keep up.

``I joke with him all the time, I say, `You've got to be one of the biggest and strongest quarterbacks I've seen,''' Willis said. ``He's fast. It's just one thing when you see a guy get behind a guy and they try to run and the guy already has a step on him. But to see a guy come across the field at an angle and he eats up the angle, to us, that's fast. That guy's moving.''

Ramping up plays out of the Pistol formation he ran at Nevada, Kaepernick's size and speed overwhelmed the Packers in ways he hadn't in his first seven starts since taking over.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman admitted the 49ers had been saving some of those schemes -and Kaepernick's legs - for the playoff push. Kaepernick, the first college football player with three seasons of 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing, surely surprised the opposition with all those read-option runs, including a 56-yarder TD keeper in the third quarter - the longest by a quarterback in franchise history - that eclipsed Vick's mark.

``I think they thought I had it,'' James said. ``That's what I told him. I know once he gets past the second level, nobody's going to touch him.''

Kaepernick's performance was hardly perfect.

He threw an interception returned for a touchdown by Sam Shields on the fourth play of the game, had a taunting penalty for throwing the ball down in the face of Packers defenders after getting tackled in the second quarter and often had problems getting the offense out of the huddle quickly.

As San Francisco also knows maybe more than any other playoff team, sustaining success is not easy.

Five previous times this season the 49ers have won two in a row, and all five times they have failed to win the next game, including a 24-24 tie against St. Louis in Week 10. If they want a trip to New Orleans, they'll have to find a way to put together something they haven't all season: a winning streak.

``It feels like we're in the same place,'' Crabtree said. ``Winning that game last year, we're in the same place. It's just what we do the next game. It's all about the next game.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

Reggie WayneFeb 19 01:52p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne has not informed the Colts on if he wants to play again next season, according to general manager Ryan Grigson.

Marshawn LynchFeb 19 01:02p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch continues to ponder if he'll return for another season, and general manager John Schneider said he wouldn't be surprised if Lynch chose to retire. [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerFeb 19 03:13a

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger has the backing of the coaching staff, but they have not committed to him as the starter for 2015. General manager Ruston Webster said [ More ]

Jay CutlerFeb 18 02:53p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler did not receive a vote of confidence from head coach John Fox. Fox said the team is still evaluating the position. Fox said he [ More ]

Charles JohnsonFeb 18 02:53p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson is 'far and away our best receiver,' according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Johnson emerged as QB Teddy Bridgewater's No. 1 target in [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 18 01:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will go into the season as the team's starting starting quarterback, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Michael CrabtreeFeb 18 01:33a

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent WR Michael Crabtree was frustrated with his role at the end of last season, and he recently removed any mention of the 49ers from [ More ]

Steve JohnsonFeb 18 01:33a

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson might be a clear starting candidate for the 2015 season if impending free-agents WR Anquan Boldin and/or WR Michael Crabtree are not brought [ More ]

Trent RichardsonFeb 17 10:53p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson missed the team's walkthrough and flight for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. He was suspended two games without pay for [ More ]

Brennan WilliamsFeb 17 05:33p

Free-agent OT Brennan Williams (Texans) signed an undisclosed deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Feb. 17.

S. RichardsonFeb 17 03:03p

Free-agent CB Shaquille Richardson (Steelers) recently signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

A.J. JenkinsFeb 17 02:13p

The Kansas City Chiefs waived WR A.J. Jenkins Tuesday, Feb. 17.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group