When it was announced that Colin Kaepernick would be the 49ers’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the regular season even after Alex Smith recovered from his concussion, water coolers and coffee makers everywhere were pissed. They knew what was coming: endless discussion of a question that had no immediate answer.
Every quarterback decision is colored in only black or white, and those who sided with Team Alex (only slightly less hip than Team Edward) talked at length about fearing the unknown. They warned us of the forthcoming rookie-pocalypse, as Kaepernick was essentially still a rookie in terms of his game experience. They preferred steady over flashy, chill over swag, and reliable over risky.
In truth, there was often a far more basic human element at play. There’s still a timeless battle between people and change.
So, where you at now, Kaepernick haters?
The 49ers are now one win away from the Super Bowl, and they were led there during a 45-31 win over Green Bay by a quarterback who made only his eighth career start. Hey Blaine Gabbert, how many games have you started?
Earlier while attempting to out those who are awful enough as people to give Peyton Manning a “loss” tonight, I wrote that quarterbacks are often given both too much blame, and too much praise. That generally remains true. But regardless of his position, when a player dominates a game — and again, only his eighth game as a starter — as thoroughly as Kaepernick did tonight, we should ensure that all of our drool is puddling at his feet.
Here’s what Kaepernick did tonight as his rushing brilliance and the dominance of his read-option field vision continued:
- He finished with 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground, setting the all-time single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Not just in a playoff game either. In any game, ever (the previous high was Michael Vick’s 173 in 2002).
- He accumulated that yardage on 11.3 yards per rushing attempt. On the year, he was averaging 6.6 YPA.
- One of his runs was a 56 yarder, and that run alone was more than Kaep’s total in six of his previous seven starts.
San Francisco had 586 yards of total offense, which is more than what I finish with during marathon Madden vegetation sessions (note: I was in my Madden prime when I was busy not being cool in high school). Kaepernick’s legs accounted for 30.9 percent of that total yardage. Meanwhile, over his nine starts this year Alex Smith had 132 rushing yards. To break down that already simple arithmetic, Kaepernick had 49 more rushing yards in one game than Smith’s total over nine. Not a typo.
There’s been no mention of Kaepernick’s throwing ability yet. Yes, he’s also good at the more conventional throwing part of being a quarterback, and infinitely better than a former Bronco who was of some importance a year ago.
His name escapes me. If only there was an Internet troll around here somewhere…
Before you all go to bed gaga over the read option, just remember this: many of you went to sleep gaga over Tebow in the playoffs once
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) January 13, 2013
There it is!
Kaepernick also threw two touchdown passes, becoming one of just three QBs in history to have two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in a playoff game. He quickly erased an early pick six by completing four +20 yard passes, two of which went from over 40 yards. The latter deep chucking is even more impressive since Kaepernick had only four completions of 40 yards or more on the season prior to today. Now half of that total came in one game.
Kaepernick finished with 263 passing yards, and if we prorate his numbers over a full year, they begin to look very RG3-y…
Kaepernick has 8 car starts. If you double his #s: 274/446, 3740 yards (8.4 Y/A), 24 TD, 8 INT, 838 rush yards (7.2 YPC), 8 TDs
— Chase Stuart (@fbgchase) January 13, 2013
If Seattle upsets Atlanta Sunday, the NFC Championship game will feature two highly mobile quarterbacks in their first years as starters. It’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had on your couch, or at the local sporting bar with other like-minded hooligans.