Sorting the Sunday Pile: Kaepernick shines, Dawson converts for 49ers
Sorting the Sunday Pile, Playoff Edition looks at the biggest storylines from the 49ers-Packers wild-card matchup, including Colin Kaepernick's big game and Phil Dawson's game-winning kick.
Wild Card Weekend: 49ers 23, Packers 20 | Chargers 27, Bengals 10 | Scores
You may have heard something about the freezing conditions at Lambeau Field Sunday. The mercury hovered around zero, which worked out to a wind chil of roughly -15 degrees, but it wasn't enough to prompt Colin Kaepernick to wear sleeves, which serves as a metaphor for this 49ers team. And with the gutty road win, San Francisco will head to balmy Charlotte, NC, to face the Panthers next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
* Remember all the talk several months ago about Kaepernick regressing as a passer? He still has some work to do but unlike, say, Andy Dalton, Kap can beat you in other ways. He completed 16-of-30 throws for 227 yards (1 TD, 1 INT), but he also rushed for 98 yards on seven carries.
And it's been Kaepernick's running skills in particular that have plagued the Packers this season.
Colin Kaepernick's two playoff games vs. Packers are the top two rushing totals of his career. 181 last year, 98 today— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) January 6, 2014
Here's a 42-yard second-quarter run that led to a Frank Gore touchdown (Gore, incidentally, threw the critical block to spring Kap):
* Kaepernick's most important sequence came on the final drive. It started on the 49ers' 20 with 5:06 on the clock and included passes of 11, 17 and 11 yards, as well as a Kap 11-yard scamper around the left end on 3rd-and-8 that set up Phil Dawson's 33-yard game-winning field goal.
Of course, moments before Dawson's attempt snuck past the right upright, FOX Sports' Erin Andrews relayed this pregame conversation she had with kicker.
Phil Dawson told Erin Andrews before the game he's not comfortable kicking at any range in this weather. That's disconcerting.— John Breech (@johnbreech) January 6, 2014
Turns out, Dawson wasn't just being modest. He was THIS close to having the kick blocked. It literally went through the arms of a Packers defender.
And here's a still image:
Yes, we know, Davon House was called for offsides but the feat of actually clearing a space that was no more than 24 inches before the ball made it to the line of scrimmage is pretty remarkable. We can all agree on that, right?
Either way, HUGE conversion:
Dawson on whether this was biggest FG of career: "It is right now. I've waited a long time to win a playoff game." #QuestForSix— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 6, 2014
* Other than the weather, another big storyline coming into this game was that Kaepernick grew up a Packers fan and Aaron Rodgers was a 49ers homer back in Chico, Calif.
* If not for Kaepernick's late-game heroics, we might be talking about Rodgers' fourth-quarter, fourth-down scramble that resulted in a 26-yard Randall Cobb completion. And, really, to call it just a "scramble" is underselling Rodgers' disappearing act.
There are no words.
* No idea if Ric Flair's motivational speech on Saturday night had any bearing on the outcome, but the 49ers should think about making him a part of their weekly preparation process. Plus, Kap really seemed to enjoy it.
Colin Kaepernick easily had the best hat on during Ric Flair's speech last night: pic.twitter.com/9lZ63QeLKc— John Breech (@johnbreech) January 5, 2014
* We joke that Jim Harbaugh has a thing for khakis, a fact that remains true even when the wind chill dips well below zero.
We'd like to think Harbaugh got a great deal on these at Rex Ryan's post-lap-band yard sale.
* Because we haven't mentioned it in 45 seconds...
* The last time the Panthers and 49ers met back in Week 10, Carolina eked out a 10-9 victory.
Kap on playing Carolina: "We owe them." #QuestForSix— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 6, 2014
So, yeah. It's go time.
The Notre Dame coach clarifies his earlier comments about his former quarterback
The Cowboys owner says he's better now than ever
Sometimes it's hard to figure out what the Bills are doing
Peterson would join a formidable backfield that includes Mark Ingram and, of course, Drew...
John Schneider has a simple rule: He doesn't like lying to people
Kizer, the former Notre Dame standout, is one of the top QBs in the draft class