Return to Glory: 49ers Return to Super Bowl After Falcons, 'Matty Ice' Meltdown
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh replaced Alex Smith with quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the middle of the season because he felt Keapernick was the best quarterback to get the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
And when the San Francisco 49ers came back from 17 points down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 on Sunday in the NFC championship game in the biggest comeback in NFC title game history, Harbaugh was vindicated. Kaepernick's tenth career start will be in the Super Bowl.
"It's exciting for everybody," Kaepernick said, of the possibility that Harbaugh may face his brother John Harbaugh in the Super Bowl if the Ravens beat the Patriots in the AFC title game.
The 49ers made the NFC championship game last season, but lost at home to the New York Giants.
While Smith was a good game manager, Harbaugh felt Kaepernick, with his stronger arm and ability to run the read-option from the pistol formation, gave the 49ers a better opportunity to get past the NFC championship game.
San Francisco stopped Atlanta on downs late in the fourth quarter when the Falcons, down by four points, were inside San Francisco's 20-yard line.
Atlanta jumped out to a quick start on two Matt Ryan touchdown passes to wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones had 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan was 30 of 42 for 396 yards and three touchdowns but had a key fumble and interception in the second half as the quarterback who has been criticized for not being clutch down the stretch again struggled in the second half of a critical game.
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis had 5 catches for 106 yards and one touchdown while running back Frank Gore had 21 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns. San Francisco running back LaMichael James scored the 49ers' first touchdown. Kaepernick showed the poise of a veteran in leading San Francisco back. He completed 16 of 121 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown.
This will be San Francisco's first Super Bowl appearance in nearly 20 years. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls. Their last appearance--and win--was in 1994 when San Francisco beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26.