SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When Colin Kaepernick went back to throw, he found open receivers. When the Green Bay Packers had it covered, he scrambled for back-breaking gains. When Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers mixed in the read option, the Packers had no chance.
A week after holding 2,000-yard rusher Adrian Peterson in check, the Packers were run over and sent home from the playoffs with a 45-31 loss Saturday night.
"We just didn't have an answer," linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "We couldn't find a way to get off the field on third down. We couldn't find a way to get off the field ever, really. He did a great job if he pulled it down to run. On passing plays, he did a good job of getting it down field. Also, when they were running that option play, we couldn't get it stopped."
The Packers (12-6) came into the game brimming with confidence after holding Peterson to 99 yards in a 24-10 win last week that set up a rematch of a week one meeting with the 49ers. That confidence only increased after Sam Shields returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive.
That would end up being about the only bright spot during a historically bad night for the Green Bay defense that gave up the most total yards (579), yards rushing (323) and second-most points in the playoffs in franchise history.
Only one other team has run for at least 320 yards and four touchdowns in a postseason game, with Chicago accomplishing the feat in a 73-0 win over Washington in 1940. Those Bears didn't have a quarterback who could paralyze a defense with the read-option and scrambles the way Kaepernick did in gaining 181 yards, a record for a quarterback in the regular season or playoffs.
"You can't let him out of there," defensive back Charles Woodson said. "It's that simple, it seems. You get good rushes on a guy like that and he finds that one hole, that one gap. When he takes off, he's out of there. It seems like it's 10 yards a pop every time he sneaks out of there. When that happens it's hard to defend."
Kaepernick scrambled for a 20-yard score in the first quarter. Then he set the rushing record for a quarterback in the playoffs when he faked an inside handoff to Frank Gore and raced untouched for a 56-yard score that gave San Francisco a 31-24 lead late in the third quarter.