The second-year quarterback from Nevada started off shaky in his first career playoff game by throwing a pick six to Packers cornerback Sam Shields on the team’s first possession, but he went nuts after that. Kaepernick broke two touchdown runs — one for 20 yards and the other for 56 — while setting an NFL quarterback record with 181 rushing yards in a game.
Kaepernick also threw the ball well. He completed 17 of 31 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Kaepernick used his rifle arm to fire passes when they needed to get there quickly, and he also showed off his touch like when he threw a perfect pass up the seam to Vernon Davis late in the game.
He is such a dynamic playmaker it’s clear he’s in a different class from Alex Smith.
Kaepernick became the 49ers’ starting quarterback after replacing Smith during a Week 10 tie against the St. Louis Rams. Smith was concussed during that game and missed the team’s next contest — a Monday night win over the Chicago Bears. It was obvious after that point that Kaepernick made the 49ers’ offense more dangerous than Smith did. Even Kaepernick’s teammates seemed to confirm that.
Though Kaepernick was contained in his third start of the season — a 16-13 loss to the Rams — his four-touchdown game two weeks later at New England proved how dangerous he is.
It’s quite fitting that the man whose playoff record Kaepernick broke for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game is Michael Vick; Kaepernick is like Vick but without the turnovers.
After watching Kaepernick beat the Bears, I had no doubt that Harbaugh made the right choice by switching. Smith had been playing well enough to get the Niners to the NFC Championship Game, but Kaepernick has the ability to lead them to a Super Bowl win. There is a big difference between the two. And what does it say about Harbaugh’s coaching ability that people actually thought he was nuts for benching a guy most of us used to call a bust?