The San Francisco 49ers went into the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and ended the Green Bay Packers playoff hopes. The weather dropped down to temperatures that were unbearable to the normal person. That was not the case for Colin Kaepernick. He took on the elements by going out on the field with short sleeves on. This is something that even some of the offensive lineman refused to do. The elements weren’t the only thing that suffered defeat at the hands of Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick proved to be the San Francisco 49ers X factor from Sunday’s win against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick was able to complete 16 of his 30 attempts 227 yards. He threw one interception and one touchdown. The other way that Kaepernick affected the game was with his legs. He was able to rush for 98 yards on only seven attempts. That total was more than any other player on Wildcard weekend.
He made a habit out of breaking off long runs when all else failed against the Packers. There was the 42 yard scamper when his receivers were covered and he was flushed out of the pocket. Then there was the 24 yard run on 3rd & 4 in which he stepped up in the pocket and took off down the sideline. The one that hurt the Packers the most was his 11 yard run on 3rd & 8. The Packers thought that they had the perfect defense to keep him from getting outside. Jarrett Bush blitzed and had the job of keeping outside contain on Kaepernick. He failed to do so as he was flushed inside by a key block by Frank Gore. That run extended the drive and Gore in turn put the team in position for a game winning 33 yard field goal by Phil Dawson.
Jim Harbaugh was much more jubilant tan normal after the game as he gushed about how clutch Kaepernick was.
“We have a good bad-weather quarterback,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “I think we’ve established that. The thing I didn’t envision, really even going into the game, and I didn’t envision when we drafted Colin was just how unbelievably effective he would be on a bad field,” Harbaugh told reporters. “He was running like a gazelle. At times, just looked like he was running and having fun like he was the only one on the field. That’s what a difference it was between him and the other defenders that were out there. And, because of the bad field, factoring that in, but that was very much to our advantage.”
Throwing the ball in that weather is normally difficult to do but it didn’t phase the sleeveless Kaepernick. He made a throw that was right on the money to Vernon Davis on a seam route for a 28 yard touchdown. One thing that continues to show is Kaepernick’s connection with Michael Crabtree. It’s not hard to catch the ball in the cold weather like that but Crabtree made eight very good hands catches while gaining 125 yards. Harbaugh once again gave high praise to one of his players.
“People talk about cold weather, and it being tough to catch balls,” Harbaugh told reporters postgame. “But the greatest catcher of all time, Michael Crabtree, catches everything. It’s unbelievable. In the northern snow lands, down to the tropic sunny scenes, he’s catching the football. Wherever they throw a football, he’ll be catching it. I’ve said it before, if my life depended on it, somebody had to catch a ball, I’d enlist Michael Crabtree to do it.” Harbaugh then went on to give more praise to his quarterback. “Being able to throw a ball that pierces through the elements, the wind,” he said. “(Kaepernick) has shown that in the rain, bad weather, footing, or elements of precipitation. He can pierce a defense with velocity and tightness of the spiral. Also really did a nice job with the touch on the ball as well. It was going to be difficult to catch the ball at times. I thought he really laid it and placed it extremely well and that’s hard to do.”
The game against the Packers was a very solid reintroduction to how effective Kaepernick can be if he has the right scheme and supporting cast. He was truly the X factor against the Packers. Next up is the Carolina Panthers, the team that held him to one of his worse games this year. Kaepernick said that the 49ers owe the Panthers. Rest assured that Kaepernick will be up for the task.