SANTA CLARA — If you combine passing yardage and rushing yardage, Colin Kaepernick's two most productive days as a pro were a playoff game last Jan. 12, and this Sept. 8's regular-season opener. Kaepernick was a much different quarterback in each game; he dominated one of them with his legs, the other with his arm. But they had one thing in common: Both came at the expense of the Green Bay Packers.
Now Kaepernick gets another shot at the team he has twice terrorized, and the Packers get another shot at proving they can adjust to the athletic third-year quarterback and, if not shut him down entirely, at least make him look mortal.
“Very good player, obviously very versatile,” Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said on a conference call this week. “Excellent, big athlete. We're prepared for their whole offense, and definitely the quarterback's always a focus.”
As understatements go, that one is akin to “Could be a bit nippy at Lambeau Field on Sunday.”
Kaepernick almost single-handedly destroyed the Packers in a divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park just shy of one year ago. Deploying the read-option scheme to perfection, he ran for 181 yards, an NFL record for quarterbacks in any game, postseason or otherwise. He also passed for 243 yards, piloting an offense that established a franchise postseason mark with 579 yards of total offense.
“It was exciting, man,” 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald said of Kaepernick's sparkling playoff debut. “I'm happy for Colin. He stepped in, and stepped up.”
The Packers' next meaningful game came about eight months later when they returned to Candlestick for a Week 1 chance at revenge. This time, Green Bay was determined to keep Kaepernick in the pocket, but that strategy proved no more effective. The quarterback picked apart coordinator Dom Capers' defense for 412 passing yards, easily his career high.