Kaep It Off! Packers Season Ends Against Niners
To be perfectly honest I have been putting off writing this article for days and I hoped that I could get away without going through this but I have to; or at least I feel like I do. People normally expected unbiased opinions from “respectable” journalists or whatever it may be that you would like to call me. I on the other hand am admitting to being a Green Bay Packers fan, as many of you already know. That being said I still refer to myself as a football fan first and a Packers fan second. I do not try to have my opinion painted by a bias for my team and when it does I usually admit to it. So let us just get this over with.
The Green Bay Packers made it to the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs for the 3rd straight year in a row. For the 2nd straight year they were defeated handedly leaving Packers fans in shock. I wrote an article about my Long Strange Trip to Lambeau during the playoffs last year, thank goodness I didn’t have the money to travel to the San Fran to see the Bay Area Massacre. Green Bay flew under the radar for most of the season after a 2-3 start but a week 17 loss to the Vikings cost them home-field advantage and forced this road playoff game.
The Packers were 4-1 under head coach Mike McCarthy, their only loss came in Arizona in 2009 in Aaron Rodgers first postseason game. Their only 4 wins came in 2010 when they went on to win Super Bowl XLV as one of the NFC’s Wild Card teams. Green Bay headed to Candlestick Park less than a week after defeating a Joe Webb led Minnesota Vikings team. The Packers had faced the Niners 5 times in the postseason and this trip would be their 6th and Green Bay had lost just once. Their sole playoff loss to San Fran, before Saturday, was the game when Steven Young found a young Terrel Owens in the end-zone as time expired.
Historically the franchise fared well against the Niners and many had high hopes for this game which only increased when Colin Kaepernick opened the first quarter by throwing a pick six. The young 2nd-year QB took over for Alex Smith after the veteran suffered a concussion early in the season. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was investing his future in the young kid from the University of Nevada, not the franchises former first round pick. Harbaugh may have had some doubt when Kaep floated a pass towards the left sidelines allowing Packers CB Sam Shields jump in front of it and return it 52 yards for a touchdown.
San Francisco essentially spotted the Packers a 7 point lead but then it happened. Colin Kaepernick took off and didn’t fall back to earth. The Niners QB would come back onto the field and tie the game on the very next possession with a 20 yard touchdown run. It looked effortless and little did Packer fans know it was only the beginning. Unlike a lot of “athletic” quarterbacks, Colin Kaepernick has a strong arm and can punish you in the throwing game when he needs to or can burn you with his feet. Colin threw 2 touchdown passes in the 2nd quarter, both of which were to his favorite target Michael Crabtree. The Packers kept it close although their offense came out of the gates with a molasses pace. It was 21-24 San Francisco going into halftime and
Kaepernick had the Packers defense in disarray for the entire game and was ultimately too much for Green Bay to handle. The Packers would tie the game at 24 with just over 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter but the next drive is when it happened. Colin Kaepernick took all of the hopes and dreams out of the Packers with a deflating 56 yard touchdown run that literally embarrassed Green Bay’s linebackers.
It was difficult to read the run-option offense that San Francisco had been running against Green Bay but there were no adjustments made whatsoever. The Packers saw the same type of offense last week in the first drive against the Vikings and Webb but unlike Minnesota, San Francisco just kept pounding away. It didn’t matter if it was Kaepernick or Franklin Delano Gore, Green Bay’s defense was exposed and they looked lost. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers refused to change his gameplan while Erik Walden, Brad Jones and even Clay Mathews couldn’t figure out who was the ball-carrier.
Colin Kaepernick would run for more yards than any other QB in the history of the NFL, in ANY game. The previous record was held by Mike Vick who had 176 yards, Kaepernick ran for 181 and 2 touchdowns. That is hard enough to swallow but it didn’t help that he also threw for 263 yards 2 touchdowns and the 1 interception. He threw for more yards than the reigning MVP, while throwing for the same amount of TD’s and picks but also rushed for more yards than any QB ever. Have I said that no other QB has ever run for that many yards? The Packers were doomed and they didn’t stand a chance on Saturday.
As for the Niners, Jim Harbaugh looks like a genius as his QB gamble seems to have paid out but his offense gained more yards in this playoff game than any other in franchise history. Kaepernick had an incredible performance but Frank Gore also tacked on 119 rushing yards of his own with a touchdown. San Francisco would gain 579 offensive yards, winning the time of possession by 17 minutes and scoring 45 points. At one point in the 4th quarter the Packers were down 21 but a late touchdown from Rodgers to Greg Jennings, likely the WR’s last of his Packers career, cutting the lead to 14 and losing the game 31-45.
The Packers were at one point up 14-7 but that feels light-years away and it’s hard to remember when this game was competitive. The blame needs to be dispersed properly and everyone deserves a slice because the defense was atrocious, Aaron Rodgers was rusty, our running game has been a sham for years and in this game Green Bay was outplayed and outcoached. The season for the Packers is over but the Niners move on to their 2nd NFC Championship in as many years but the question is whether or not Kaepernick can get them where Alex Smith couldn’t.