Bold move pays off with record-breaking Kaepernick

Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:25am EST
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(Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh went against the book when he stayed with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick as starting quarterback even after regular Alex Smith was fit to return.

Kaepernick made the move look like a stroke of genius as he wrote a brilliant opening chapter to his playoff career with a record-breaking performance in a 45-31 victory over the visiting Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

The strong-armed quarterback set a National Football League standard for rushing by a quarterback by gaining 181 yards on the ground including touchdowns covering 56 and 20 yards.

The 25-year-old Kaepernick terrorized the team he grew up cheering for as a boy in Wisconsin before his family moved to California.

"It's been amazing," the 2011 second-round draft pick out of the University of Nevada-Reno said. "I couldn't ask for anything more."

He also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Michael Crabtree and had 263 passing yards for 444 yards of total offense that impressed Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player.

"He was running all over the field," said Rodgers, who led the Packers to the Super Bowl title two years ago.

"He's big, strong, athletic, throws the ball well, runs the ball extremely well. We didn't really have a whole lot of answers for him."

Harbaugh had to answer wave after wave of questions when he installed Kaepernick as his regular quarterback after Smith, the 2005 top pick of the NFL Draft, had recovered from a concussion after missing one game.   Continued...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick runs off the field after throwing a touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter during their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in San Francisco, California, January 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake