Dear Baltimore Ravens,
Stopping the 6’4", 230-pound train that leads the high powered (27, 45, and 27 points in their last 3 games) niner offense is tougher than a 2 dollar steak. The Nevada product’s blazing speed and powerful arm make him an uncontainable force that destroys defenses with raging tenacity.
In the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons have taken two separate approaches to gunning down Colin Kaepernick and his pistol offense. Green Bay tried to stop Frank Gore and the niner running game, and Kaepernick eviscerated them for 181 yards on the ground (an NFL postseason record), 2 rushing and passing touchdowns each, AND 263 passing yards. Except for a first quarter pick six, Kaepernick dominated the Frank-focused Packer defense in a 45-31 victory. In Atlanta, Frank Gore gashed an Atlanta defense intent on stopping Kaep from running and the niners won 28-24.
A great example of Kaepernick’s superb performance in the divisional round was his 56-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter.
Following Mason Crosby’s game tying field goal, Kaepernick began the drive that would swing the game towards the niners from his own 20-yard line. He rifled a pass to Michael Crabtree for an 18-yard gain. He followed that up with another 6 yard dart to Crabtree, who finished with 119 yards on 9 receptions. Then, on only the third play of the drive, he grabbed ahold of the Packers’ season, and tore it to pieces.
The 49ers lined up at their own 44 yard line, facing a 2nd and 4. There are 5 down lineman and tight end Vernon Davis is also on the line of scrimmage at the top of the formation. Crabtree, fresh off of 2 catches for 24 yards, sits in the slot. The speedy Ted Ginn is out wide at the bottom and fullback Bruce Miller and dynamic tailback LaMichael James (3 carries for 21 yards) flank Kaepernick in the backfield.
The offensive line gets the play started by walling off the Packers front. The big fellas, along with tight end Vernon Davis, set an angle and provide space for Kaepernick and LaMichael to work their magic. Kaepernick fakes a handoff to James, a move that sucks in all three of the Green Bay linebackers. Packers LOLB Erik Walden (#93), in particular, rushes inside to stop the run and abandons the edge. Kaepernick is keying off of Walden’s aggressiveness, and decides to run it himself. Crabtree and Ginn continue up field to block the Packers secondary
The 49ers front continues to absorb the Packers front 7, and left tackle Joe Staley (#74) even gets to the second level and blocks cornerback Sam Shields. Vernon Davis takes Clay Matthews and deposits him about as far from the play as possible and every lineman wins his one on one block. Meanwhile, Erik Walden bites like a snapping turtle on the play fake, and MLB Brad Jones (#59) hits James before realizing he doesn’t have the football. The man with the football is Colin Kaepernick and he has a lot of daylight in front of him. Crabtree locks down FS Charles Woodson (#21) and it’s off to the races.
Thanks to a play fake to LaMichael James and tremendous blocking all over the field (check out Teddy Ginn swallowing Tramon Williams and just how far Vernon Davis moved Clay Matthews), Colin Kaepernick has a Grand Canyon sized opening to run to glory through. There are 10 Green Bay Packers to the left of Kaepernick and the remaining right-side defender is a helpless Tramon Williams (#38).
And like that, he’s gone (56 yards)!
Touchdown! The 49ers would never trail again in the game and go on to win 45-31.
The Atlanta Falcons responded to Kaepernick’s outstanding performance with a game plan intent on stopping this exact type of play. Atlanta would not let the 49ers speedy quarterback beat them on the edges. However, Falcon’s defensive coordinator Mike Nolan failed to account for the man who carried Nolan’s abysmal offense during his tenure as the niner head coach: Frank Gore. Gore tore Atlanta’s defense to shreds with 2 touchdowns and 90 rushing yards.
The lethal Gore-Kaep combination was in full force on Gore’s game winning touchdown with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter. To begin the drive, Ted Ginn returned a punt 20 yards to the Atlanta 38. In clear striking distance and in need of a score, Kaepernick guided the niner offense down to the Atlanta 9. Then he and Gore sent San Francisco to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.
At the 9, San Francisco lines up in a nearly identical formation to the one that sent Kaep off on his 56-yard TD scamper the previous week. This time, Randy Moss occupies the slot while Michael Crabtree is on the outside. It’s a near mirror image, with Vernon Davis now on the near side, and the receivers on top. Bruce Miller is still to the left of Kaepernick and there are 5 down lineman. Atlanta is in a very similar set to Green Bay, with their 2 outside linebackers crowding the line of scrimmage.
Falcon outside linebacker John Abraham (#55) sets the edge and makes sure Kaepernick doesn’t victimize his team like he did to Green Bay. When Abraham makes the move up field to set the edge, he opens a crease for Gore and fullback Bruce Miller to run through. The crease is also due to the terrific blocking up front by the offensive lineman. They set an angle similar to the one on Kaepernick’s run, and again it opens up the right side of the field. Davis is able to move off of Abraham and get to the second level to take on a defensive back. Alex Boone (#75) is also at the second level and engages linebacker Akeem Dent (#52). The weak side defensive backs are engaged in their one on one matchups with decoys Moss and Crabtree, and are therefore rendered useless on the play. Kaep reads the advancing outside linebacker, sees the crease, and hands the ball off to Gore.
Miller crashes into middle linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, Alex Boone maintains his position against Dent, and Vernon gets just enough of Thomas DeCoud (#28) for Gore to walk in untouched for six. Also, look at how far Abraham is away from the play and how safety William Moore (#25) and cornerback Asante Samuel (#22 and guarding Moss) are unable to get to Gore in time. This is because they have to pay attention to Kaepernick. The threat of him pulling the ball back and slinging it to an open Moss for a touchdown keeps them from immediately going after Gore.
The end result: another score for the 49ers all-time leading rusher, and a trip to the Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers.
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.