49ers Roll Over Packers to Advance to NFC Championship
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed for a team playoff record 183 yards -- the most ever in the postseason by an NFL quarterback -- and running back Frank Gore ran for 119, leading the San Francisco 49ers to a 45-31 victory Saturday night over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season and will play the winner of Sunday's game at Atlanta between the Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
Kaepernick, making his first playoff start, smashed running back Roger Craig's team postseason rushing mark of 135 set on Jan. 1, 1989, in a divisional game against Minnesota. Before Kaepernick ran wild against the Packers, no NFL quarterback had run for more yards in a playoff game than Michael Vick, who rushed for 119 yards on eight carries against St. Louis for Atlanta on Jan. 15, 2005.
The 49ers, meanwhile, rushed for a team playoff record 325 yards, snapping the mark of 211 set against Miami in the Super Bowl on Jan. 1, 1985.
Kaepernick rushed for two touchdowns and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught nine passes for 119 yards.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 59 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Jennings caught six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
The Packers turned the no-huddle offense early in the second half and drove 76 yards in nine plays for Mason Crosby's 31-yard field, making it 24-24 with 8:25 left in the third.
After that, the 49ers scored two quick touchdowns to build a 38-24 lead and take control.
San Francisco needed just 1:18 to drive 80 yards and take a 31-24 lead on Kaepernick's 56-yard touchdown run around right end on a read-option play. Kaepernick faked a handoff to rookie running back LaMichael James, pulled the ball back and, as the Packers converged on James, found a huge lane around right end. He raced untouched into the end zone.
After the 49ers defense forced a punt, Kaepernick and the 49ers went to work again, driving 93 yards in eight plays for Frank Gore's 2-yard touchdown blast with 14:57 left to play.
Kaepernick's 44-yard pass to tight end Vernon Davis gave the 49ers a first down at the Packers' 15. On first down, James darted up the middle for 13 yards to the 2. Gore did the rest.
The 49ers upped their lead to 45-24 on fullback Anthony Dixon's 2-yard touchdown run with 3:34 left to play.
Rodgers' 3-yard touchdown pass to Jennings cut the lead to 45-31 with 57 seconds left.
The 49ers built a 24-21 halftime lead on the strength of Kaepernick's passing and running. He rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries by halftime. He also passed for 148 yards and two touchdowns, both to Crabtree, but threw an interception for a touchdown to Packers cornerback Sam Shields on the game's first drive.
Rodgers, meanwhile, went 5 of 10 for 96 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the first half. James Jones caught a pair of passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and running back DuJuan Harris carried nine times for 47 yards and a score in the opening half.
Green Bay grabbed a quick 7-0 lead when Shields intercepted a Kaepernick pass and returned 52 yards for a touchdown with 12:48 still left in the first quarter.
On second-and-6, Kaepernick initially looked toward the right sideline, but when Crabtree slipped and fell, he scrambled to his left. Under pressure, Kaepernick threw off his back foot, trying to hit Davis, but Shields knifed in front for the interception then headed down the sideline.
After Kaepernick dove and missed at the 20, Shields cruised into the end zone.
The 49ers answered on their next drive, marching 80 yards in seven plays for a touchdown, Kaepernick scoring on a 20-yard scramble. Kaepernick made a huge play earlier in the drive, facing third-and-10 from the 49ers 33. He scrambled left then lofted a short pass over Packers safety Charles Woodson to Gore, who ran all the way to Green Bay 22 for a 45-yard gain.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews sacked Kaepernick for a 7-yard loss on first down, but Frank Gore gained 9 yards on a second-down draw. On third-and 8 from the 20, Kaepernick dropped back to pass but saw a huge alley open up off the left edge and took off running and didn't stop until he was in the end zone, tying the game 7-7 with 9:01 left in the first quarter.
The Packers moved back ahead 14-7 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter on Harris' 18-yard burst up the middle for a touchdown. One play earlier, Rodgers hit Jones on a 44-yard strike down the right sideline. Jones got behind 49ers nickel cornerback Chris Culliver and made a leaping catch before safety Dashon Goldson arrived.
The 49ers capitalized on a Packers turnover to pull even. Green Bay's Jeremy Ross muffed an Andy Lee punt, and 49ers cornerback C.J. Spillman recovered at the 9.
On third-and-goal from the 12, Crabtree ran a crossing route over the middle, and no Packer covered him. Kaepernick hit Crabtree in stride, and he scored with 10:59 left in the half, making it 14-14.
The 49ers quickly got the ball back when Rodgers overthrew Jordy Nelson deep over the middle and cornerback Tarrell Brown intercepted then returned 39 yards to the Packers' 48. Eight plays later, Kaepernick threw a 20-yard laser for a touchdown to Crabtree, who beat Shields on a post pattern. Crabtree's TD put the 49ers ahead 21-14 with 3:53 left in the half.
Green Bay wasted little time before pulling even. Rodgers fired a 20-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Jones with 2:33 left in the half, capping a six-play, 80-yard drive. On their scoring play, the Packers lined up five receivers with an empty backfield, and Jones sliced through the 49ers' zone coverage for an easy TD catch.
There was still enough time left for the 49ers to score again in the half, as David Akers made a 36-yard field goal on the final play, putting San Francisco ahead 24-21.
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