Kaepernick keeps cool to deliver 49ers Super Bowl spot

Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:39pm EST
 
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By Simon Evans

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Colin Kaepernick showed he has the big-game temperament as he led the San Francisco 49ers on a record NFC Championship comeback over the Atlanta Falcons and into the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years.

Kaepernick, making just his ninth NFL start after taking over from injured incumbent Alex Smith midway through the NFL season, showed he is more than up for the task as he completed 16-of-21 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown.

"He just played great. I don't even know how to say it. It was a great performance by the quarterback," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said after his team's 28-24 win.

"He just competes like a maniac all the time, in practice and in games. It's always the same when I'm looking in through the facemasks, that is what I'm seeing the guy doing."

The second-year quarterback did not come close to the record 181-yard rushing performance that gained him plenty of attention after last week's win over Green Bay but still led an offense that made effective use of the running game in the second half.

It was Kaepernick's calmness under intense pressure while staring at a 17-point second quarter deficit to the top-seeded Falcons that was most impressive.

"Going out on the field frantic isn't going to help you lead, you have to stay calm and try to lead your team," the 25-year-old, whose second-quarter touchdown pass to Vernon Davis pulled his team to within three points, told reporters.

Kaepernick showed his leadership ability by entering the field late in the fourth quarter to encourage an Atlanta defense that did not allow a point in the second half to keep out the Falcons.   Continued...

 
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick scrambles against the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter in the NFL NFC Championship football game in Atlanta, Georgia January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn