It is difficult to tell which was the greater key to the 49ers triumph, the outstanding play of San Francisco or the pitiful performance of Green Bay. Colin Kaepernick will be rightly praised tomorrow. He showed poise and skill as a passer and a runner. What is hard for me to understand is how Green Bay came so unprepared. I can think of no better example that sums up their performance than the 4th and short offside penalty on B.J. Raji. They simply did not come to play.
Moving forward, the 49ers are not a team I would want to be playing right now. Kaepernick played like a man possessed tonight, but the 49ers also have one of the game’s best in Frank Gore, a top receiver in Michael Crabtree, and an under-used but uber-talented tight end in Vernon Davis. Their offensive line is one of the best I’ve seen, their defense is first rate, and their coach has these guys playing hard and smart. While I’m not sure this performance cements them as the favorite moving forward, they will be nearly impossible to beat if they continue to play at this level.
Is it too late to change my prediction? It looks like the 49ers are firmly in control of this game. The Packers continue to hurt themselves on both fronts. Their offensive line has been poor and their defensive line has been atrocious. Aaron Rodgers will have to have a 4th quarter for the ages in order for Green Bay to have a chance. The 49ers have dominated the game to a greater extent than the 38-24 early 4th quarter score indicates.
Particularly after that opening interception, I am shocked to see Colin Kaepernick outperforming Aaron Rodgers. While Green Bay fans can take hope in the fact that Rodgers is likely to have a stronger second half, the poor effort of their defense has to be disheartening.
While Kaepernick is a good runner, it is the inability of the Packers to keep lanes in their pass rush that has allowed him to rush for over 100 yards in the first half. Additionally, he is carving them up in the passing game. For a seasoned team like the Packers, it is shocking to see them come out so flat and playing like they haven’t watched any film on their opponent.
The 49ers lead the Packers 24-21 at halftime.
The performance of Colin Kaepernick, the second-year quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, starting in just his 8th game, is the early story of the NFC Divisional Playoffs. On the biggest stage of his life, after being the subject of much discussion throughout the week, he began the matchup against the Packers with an interception returned for a touchdown.
There was a reason many, including myself, felt that his performance could lose the game for the 49ers. This is a big stage for a young quarterback, and how Kaepernick would respond quickly became the biggest question.
How quickly Kaepernick’s confidence is restored will play a huge part in how this game unfolds. His quick response looks good for the 49ers as he led them down for a score, capping off the drive with an impressive touchdown run.