Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/13/13
The Good: Colin KaepernickKaepernick terrorized the Green Bay Packers all night long with a dizzying array of scrambles and lethal throws from the pocket.  He shook off an early interception that was returned for a touchdown by Sam Shields to set league and team records en route to a 45-31 shellacking of the Packers.  He made plays and throws that Alex Smith could not even dream of making while displaying the mental toughness to further validated Jim Harbaugh’s decision to continue starting him after Smith recovered from his concussion.Kaepernick finished 17-31 for 263 yards, a gaudy 8.5 yards per attempt, and two touchdowns with another 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.Since becoming the starter, he has connected with Michael Crabtree in ways Smith never could.  In the most critical game of the year, Crabtree hauled in 9 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns from Kaepernick.Perhaps the greatest indicator of just how much of an upgrade Kaepernick is over Smith is third down efficiency.  Last year, against the Giants in the NFC title game, the 49ers were a paltry 1-13 on third down.  Fast forward a year, substitute the quarterback, and they were 8-13.  The sample size is small and the Giants were much better defensively than the Packers are, but Kaepernick’s performance on third down jumps off the screen.Kaepernick set the NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game with 181 and helped the 49ers break the team record for yards gained in a playoff game.  San Francisco rolled 579 total yards and scored on seven of their last nine possessions.  Kaepernick’s multi-dimensional skill set makes the 49ers incredibly dangerous moving forward.The Bad:  Green Bay’s TurnoversWhatever chance Green Bay had of taking control of the game was undone by a pair of turnovers early in the second quarter.  After taking a 14-7 lead on a touchdown run by DaJaun Harris, the Packer defense forced a San Francisco punt, adding to their momentum attained by Harris’ touchdown.  Rookie Jeremy Ross promptly muffed the punt at his own nine yard line and the 49ers scored three plays later to deadlock the score at 14.  Opportunity lost.On the next Green Bay drive Rodgers was intercepted by Terrell Brown, who returned the pick close to midfield.  The ball was thrown high and over the top, not flat and towards the middle of the field where Jordy Nelson was running.  The 49ers wasted no time in turning the interception into points when Kaepernick hit Crabtree on a skinny post.  The 14 point swing in just under six minutes was too much for Green Bay to overcome.The Ugly: The Green Bay defenseGreen Bay’s defensive game plan and execution were an abomination.  After a promising start thanks to a dumb decision by Kaepernick, the Packers simply could not stop the 49ers.  They played too much man coverage on third down, leaving Kaepernick with an easy run or pass read.  Early in the game, he gashed the Packers on scrambles and improvisation.  As the game wore on, the read option was executed with devastating effectiveness.  Green Bay looked like they had never defended it in their lives.  Both Kaepernick and Frank Gore had over 100 yards rushing.  San Francisco piled up over 300 rushing yards while Erik Walden and Clay Matthews chased their tails trying to figure out who had the ball. The 49ers held the ball for 38 minutes and ran 75 plays, 15 more than their average during the regular season.  Averaging 7.7 yards per play on such a high volume of plays is both impressive and pathetic.  What makes this performance even more inexplicable is that the Packers just played a quarterback capable of running the read option a week earlier in Joe Webb. Dom Capers is lucky they even let him on the plane. 
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