Jared Newman, CineSport—The San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 45-31 to reach a second straight NFC Championship Game. Colin Kaepernick was responsible for 444 total yards & four scores in his playoff debut.
The Packers must be devastated that their 2013 playoff run came to an end on Saturday at Candlestick Park, but the loss to the 49ers has to sting the most for Aaron Rodgers.
The star quarterback grew up in the Bay Area as a 49ers fan and stayed nearby during his college years at Cal. He tied an NCAA record for most consecutive passes in a game during his junior season, and it looked like he could become a 49er when he declared for the 2005 NFL Draft and San Francisco had the #1 pick.
San Francisco decided to go with Alex Smith though, and Rodgers dropped all the way to the 24th pick, where Green Bay selected him.
It has been eight years since then, but Rodgers must have still had revenge on his mind on Saturday. When he was asked in 2005 if he was disappointed that San Francisco decided not to take him, he responded, “Not as disappointed as the 49ers will be that they didn’t draft me.”
With that in mind, San Francisco fans had cause to worry about their team’s chances of returning to the NFC Championship Game, since Rodgers showed earlier this season that he plays his best football when he has a reason to be personally motivated.
When the Packers were 2-3 and heading into a Week 6 matchup with the undefeated Houston Texans on the road, it looked like they could be on track to miss the playoffs.
In the first quarter of that game, Cris Collinsworth explained that he had spoken to Aaron Rodgers the night before and that the Packers quarterback couldn’t believe people were starting to count out his team.
Collinsworth went on to say that he got the feeling there was no way Green Bay could lose that game to Houston.
He was right.
In that Sunday night game, Rodgers responded to Green Bay’s critics by lighting up the Texans defense, throwing six touchdown passes and guiding the Packers to a 42-24 blowout victory.
So, let’s say you wanted to make a bet on the Packers-49ers game and weren’t sure which way to go.
If you saw what Collinsworth said, the way Rodgers performed against the Texans and the video clip of Rodgers saying that the 49ers would regret passing on him, wouldn’t you be tempted to put your money on the Packers to beat the 49ers (or at least cover the spread)?
In fact, even if Rodgers didn’t have an extra reason to be motivated, the Packers still seemed to have a terrific chance of leaving Candlestick Park with a win. Green Bay won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago and Rodgers had a 3-1 road playoff record, which is one win away from the all-time record.
With that said, hopefully you didn’t make that bet. But if you did because you were swayed by Rodgers’ desire for revenge, you can take heart in the fact that you are likely one of many.
Revenge is a made-up factor that we like to consider to be capable of making a legitimate impact. We speculate this way to entertain ourselves and to raise the stakes of a scenario. We also often look up to athletes as heroes and have unfair expectations.
It would have been great if Aaron Rodgers could have risen to the occasion against his personal rival, the 49ers, the way Batman is always able to get the best of The Joker and Superman can always find a way to foil Lex Luthor’s plans.
However, the reality is that Rodgers is merely human, and a football game isn’t scripted for him to succeed.
In that game against Houston in Week 6, he didn’t have a grudge against the Texans, but he was motivated to prove critics wrong. Yet, that wasn’t the only reason why the Packers beat the Texans in that game.
At the end of the season, it became clear the Texans weren’t as good as they seemed to be in the first few weeks, but at the time Houston looked like a great matchup for Green Bay.
Teams that rely on the running game (like Houston does) almost always struggle to make comebacks when they get behind early. The Packers struck quickly, scoring a touchdown on their first possession, and then they put up another seven points at the end of the first quarter.
The 49ers are similar to the Texans in that they also rely heavily on the run. But they are a much better team all-around and have a more dangerous quarterback. Colin Kaepernick has proven that Jim Harbaugh made the right decision by starting him over Alex Smith, whereas Matt Schaub was inconsistent all season, especially when he didn’t get major help from Arian Foster.
Rodgers didn’t have a great game by his standards against the 49ers, racking up 257 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. However, he shouldn’t be blamed for the loss. The bigger problem for Green Bay in that game was that their defense allowed Kaepernick to rush for a quarterback-record 181 yards.
It would have been a great story for Aaron Rodgers to defeat San Francisco, but the 49ers proved that they are the best team in the NFC by dominating Green Bay. They deserve to go to Atlanta to take on the Falcons for a shot to play for a championship.
Chances are they’ll win that game on Sunday and take on the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Playoff rookie Colin Kaepernick rebounded from an early pick six and carried the 49ers past the Packers, 45-31 at Candlestick Park on Saturday night.
Kaepernick set an NFL playoff record for quarterbacks by rushing for 181 yards. He found the endzone twice as a runner and twice through the air while amassing 444 total yards. The Nevada product's 56-yard scoring run in the third quarter put San Francisco ahead for good. Kaepernick stayed humble after the win.
Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns but it wasn't enough as Green Bay's defense was shredded for 579 yards, including 323 on the ground. Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy both came away impressed by Kaepernick.
The 49ers return to their second consecutive NFC championship game. However, they must wait for Sunday's winner of the Seahawks, Falcons contest to determine where the game will be played. Stay with CineSport for the latest NFL news and be sure to follow us on twitter at CineSport.