Going into last Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, there was no question that Colin Kaepernick was going to be expected to play either at a level equal to or better than his counterpart Aaron Rodgers. Kaepernick has proven to have played better than Rodgers in the previous two games — both 49ers wins — and in a winning effort last Sunday, Kaepernick once again was the better quarterback as he showed and proved to be clutch when he needed to step up and deliver.
As the 49ers get ready to take on the Carolina Panthers in their NFC Divisional Playoff game this upcoming Sunday, Kaepernick will once again be counted on to come up clutch in order for the 49ers to win and advance to a third consecutive NFC Championship Game. While it may not be a revenge game for Kaepernick and the 49ers, there is no doubt that he must do better against a Panthers team the team lost to back in Week 10.
Back in that game, Kaepernick had his worst performance of the season as he went 11-for-22 passing and threw for 91 yards with one interception while being sacked six times in a losing effort. Needless to say, the Panthers’ defense frustrated and got to Kaepernick each time he dropped back to pass. Yet there are a number of reasons and factors to believe that the Kaepernick we saw back in that game will not be seen this upcoming Sunday.
For starters, Kaepernick did not have the luxury of being able to throw to Michael Crabtree. And as has been clearly seen, Kaepernick’s confidence when dropping back to pass has increased now that he has his No. 1 wide receiver back in the fold. In addition to having been without the services of Crabtree, Vernon Davis had to leave the previous encounter with an injury early in the first half which also played a role in Kaepernick’s play in that game.
Undoubtedly Kaepernick will be going up against a much better defense in the Panthers than the one he saw against the Packers last Sunday, so it’s fair to say that the potential of him rushing for close to 100 yards is out the window given that in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis the Panthers have two of the better linebackers in the NFC. That said, Kaepernick has been playing some of his best football in the latter part of the season, and that means he is in position to once again step up and be a big contributor to a 49ers win.