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Dynamic QB Kaepernick sleeves Packers in his dust again | New York Post

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Jim Harbaugh tried more than once to get Colin Kaepernick to wear long sleeves for the 49ers wild-card playoff game against the Packers on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. With the wind-chill at minus-10 degrees at kickoff and expected to drop to minus-20 before the game finished, Harbaugh figured his quarterback could use the extra insulation. But Kaepernick told his coach, “I’ve played in colder,” referring to his college career at Nevada. “I feel like it’s more mental than anything. I’m a little hard-headed at times.” Going sleeveless showed the quarterback born in Milwaukee and raised in California wasn’t going to give in to Mother Nature, nor would he give in to the Packers and Aaron Rodgers in one of the toughest environments anyone could face. Amid the frigid temperature and with a Lambeau record playoff crowd of 77,525 at full throat, Kaepernick lead the 49ers on a game-winning 14-play drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Phil Dawson as time expired. It gave the 49ers a 23-20 victory and sends them into a divisional playoff against the Panthers next Sunday in Charlotte. “To put a drive together like that under any conditions is big time, but especially today with all the factors working against us,” said Dawson, who had three field goals in the game. Kaepernick might have been called clueless if he’d gotten frostbite and performed miserably in the cold. Instead, his coach was using words like “clutch, tough and great” to describe his quarterback, who completed 16 of 30 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception and also ran for 98 yards on seven carries. “Somebody that answers in the clutch time of the game, on the important down, on the time when it matters most, that’s what I would call clutch,” Harbaugh said. “He’s Kaepernick tough, and I think it’s pretty awesome.” It worked out well for the 49ers, but there were several times Kaepernick could have been the goat. He burned a timeout on the first play of the third quarter when he left his play-coded wristband on the sidelines. And his game-winning drive almost ended prematurely when a sideline pass to Anquan Boldin was nearly intercepted by Packers cornerback Micah Hyde. But there was enough brilliance by Kaepernick to outplay Rodgers (17 of 26 for 177 yards and 1 TD). A 42-yard run in the second quarter set up a touchdown run by Frank Gore and a perfect 28-yard dart between two defenders to tight end Vernon Davis in the fourth quarter rallied the 49ers into a 20-17 lead. And on his game-winning drive, Kaepernick completed passes of 11, 17 and 11 yards, before scrambling for 11 yards to the Packers 27 to convert on third-and-8. “I was trying to go to [Michael] Crabtree one-on-one, but it didn’t look good to me so I tried to make something happen,” Kaepernick said of his scramble that ultimately positioned Dawson for his game-winning kick. Kaepernick’s poise under pressure didn’t surprise his teammates. It was the sixth game-winning drive of his young career and the fourth this season. “When we needed a play he got it whether it was throwing the ball or running,” said Gore, who rushed for 66 yards. “He’s a tough guy. A quarterback like that you’ll do whatever for him.” Kaepernick insisted he wasn’t affected by the weather, which made it the seventh coldest game at Lambeau since 1959 and the fourth-coldest postseason game ever at the storied stadium. Now the 49ers head to Carolina to face the Panthers, who defeated San Francisco 10-9 on Nov. 10. Kaepernick threw for just 91 yards and ran for only 16 yards in that game.
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