It had not been much of a regular season for the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. But the young quarterback earned his star status from what he did in the playoffs last year, and he showed himself to be equally up to the post-season challenge Sunday in the frigid temperatures of Green Bay.
Wearing a short-sleeved jersey and no gloves in kickoff temperature that was 5 degrees (-10 wind chill factor), Kaepernick did not let the elements or circumstances deter him from leading the 49ers on a last-second, pulsating 23-20 victory in an NFC wild-card playoff game.
On the strength of Kaepernick’s passing and running ability, San Francisco drove much of the field in the final seconds and won on Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal as time expired.
“I’ve played in cold-weather games before,” Kaepernick said. “I feel like it’s more mental than anything.”
San Francisco plays at Carolina next Sunday in the divisional round. Kaepernick threw for 227 yards, including a 28-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis, and ran for 98 yards, including some huge first downs when the pocket collapsed.
In an exciting fourth quarter, the 49ers (13-4) had the ball last and were able to capitalize on that fortune. Kaepernick escaped a blitz to get to the 27 with 1:13 left. “Just trying to figure out a way to get that first down,” Kaepernick said. “Had a play called, we didn’t get the look that we wanted. It worked out for us.”
Dawson nailed the winning kick five plays later.
But it was Kaepernick’s ability to make plays running that complemented his passing attack. “It was unbelievable, the way he was getting the edge. I mean, just clutch,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Colin Kaepernick, I think we can all agree, is a clutch performer.”