Colin Kaepernick was no doubt the standout player from the divisional round of the 2013 NFL Playoffs. The second-year quarterback accumulated 444 total yards and four touchdowns through the air and on the ground en route to a convincing victory.
It truly was a remarkable performance, but if Kaepernick comes out and lays an egg in the NFC Championship game, it will all be for nothing. Divisional round wins are fine and dandy, and Kaepernick’s was real dandy, but if you lose the championship game, who cares about the divisional round?
See, the ante is upped this weekend, it’s championship Sunday and Kaepernick is not playing in front of a friendly home crowd. He’s traveling across the country to play in the hostile Georgia Dome in a title game. The ante has been upped, and in a big way.
There’s absolutely no question about how physically talented Kaepernick is. He’s a mix of size, speed, and throwing ability that I’m not sure we’ve quite ever seen before. He’s good enough to play like he did in the divisional round on a regular basis in the NFL. Over time he’s likely to get more accurate as a passer and only further complement his cannon of an arm. Kaepernick is simply the real deal any way you slice it.
But what about the next level? What about championship Sunday? Does Kaepernick have what it takes between the ears to get the job done? Will he step up to the challenge with confidence? Or will he crumble on the big stage?
The San Francisco 49ers are going to be in this game because of their defense. I think this game will be close, and one that won’t be decided until the fourth quarter. Ultimately, I think the play of Colin Kaepernick is the deciding factor in this game. He’s physically gifted enough to overcome even an average day through the air, and he certainly won’t have to be perfect, but he has to be smart while handling the pressure.
There are times in all big games when players have to rise to the occasion with big plays. When these big moments present themselves Sunday, how will Kaepernick respond? That’s what decides this game. If Kaepernick makes smart decisions and lets the game come to him, the 49ers will defeat the Atlanta Falcons.