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Eric Goska column: Kaepernick's feet make playoff history against Packers

Jan. 5, 2014
 

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick runs past Green Bay Packers linebacker Andy Mulumba during the fourth quarter of the Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette Media

Fleet feet

The six players who have rushed for more than 150 yards against the Packers in the postseason.

PlayerAttYdsAvg10+FDTD
Colin Kaepernick2327912.111112
Emmitt Smith552544.66184
Frank Gore431854.34102
Garrison Hearst431824.26101
Barry Sanders401684.2580
Don Perkins341594.7491

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The Packers have chased down some great backs in the postseason.

None has been more difficult to corral than Colin Kaepernick.

The 49ers quarterback again made plays with his feet as San Francisco edged Green Bay 23-20 in a wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field. Kaepernick ripped off some big gains, including picking up a key first down that helped set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning 33-yard field goal as time expired.

Over the years, the Packers have encountered a number of backs who ran themselves into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tuffy Leemans, Jim Brown, Tony Dorsett, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith all carved out yards against Green Bay in the playoffs before their enshrinement.

This is not to say Kaepernick belongs in a conversation concerning Canton. It’s far too early for that.

But the Wisconsin native has outdone those greats when it comes to playoff rushing yards vs. the Packers.

A year ago, Kaepernick rushed 16 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns in San Francisco’s 45-31 win over Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs. On Sunday, he added 98 on seven attempts.

That gives him 279 in two games, a postseason record against the Packers. The only other player with more than 200 is Smith, who gained 254 in three games for the Cowboys.

Four others, including teammate Frank Gore, surpassed 150.

No one chews up yards in chunks like Kaepernick. Eleven of his 23 carries have covered 10 or more yards, another postseason record against the Packers.

He had four long gains (42, 16, 24 and 11) in the 49ers’ win Sunday. All but his 16-yarder in the third quarter came on scoring drives.

His 42-yard dash set up Gore’s 10-yard TD run that put San Francisco up 13-7. He followed a 24-yard scamper with a 28-yard strike to tight end Vernon Davis for a 20-17 lead.

Finally, his 11-yard scramble to the Packers’ 27-yard line on third-and-8 with 1 minute, 7 seconds left put the 49ers on the cusp of scoring territory. The game ended five plays later.

Green Bay defended Kaepernick well early. Ryan Pickett, Andy Mulumba and A.J. Hawk held him to 5 yards on three first-quarter carries.

Mulumba was the only one to get him behind the line. The linebacker deposited him for a 4-yard loss on the 49ers’ opening drive, forcing a fourth down that Kaepernick converted with a 31-yard pass to Michael Crabtree.

Quick hits

■ Mason Crosby became the Packers’ all-time leading scorer in the playoffs. He had eight points against the 49ers to give him 77, four better than previous record holder Chris Jacke, who had 73. Crosby scored in his 11th consecutive playoff game to break a tie with Jacke and Ryan Longwell for the longest streak in team history. In addition, he has connected on nine straight field goals in the postseason, another record.

■ John Kuhn scored his seventh touchdown in the playoffs on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Only Antonio Freeman (12) has scored more TDs for the Packers in the postseason.

■ For the first time since the 1938 championship game, the Packers failed to complete a pass in the first quarter of a playoff game. Aaron Rodgers attempted two, both of which fell incomplete under pressure.

■ The Packers gained 6 yards in the first quarter. It was the fewest for them in the opening 15 minutes of a playoff game since they were held to minus-5 on six plays against the Cowboys on Jan. 16, 1983.

■ Sunday marked the first time Green Bay lost a home playoff game in which it committed fewer turnovers (0) than its opponent (1). The Packers had been 10-0 in such games.

aegoska@sbcglobal.net

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