SAN FRANCISCO – Colin Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Michael Crabtree in leading the San Francisco 49ers back to the NFC championship game with a 45-31 victory against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night.
Playoff first-timer Kaepernick outshined reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who never got in sync for the Packers (12-6) in finishing 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns.
Kaepernick ran for scores of 20 and 56 yards on the way to topping the rushing mark of 119 yards set by Michael Vick in 2005 against St. Louis.
Crabtree caught touchdown passes of 12 and 20 yards in the second quarter and wound up with nine receptions and 119 yards for the Niners (12-4-1) in the NFC divisional matchup.
San Francisco had 579 total yards, 323 on the ground.
Kaepernick, the second-year pro out of Nevada who supplanted Alex Smith at quarterback in a much-debated move by coach Jim Harbaugh, shook off an interception that Sam Shields ran back 52 yards for a touchdown on San Francisco’s first possession to twice rally the 49ers from a TD behind.
Kaepernick’s 56-yard TD run on a read-option keeper in the third quarter – the longest by a quarterback in franchise history – gave the 49ers a 31-24 lead. He stopped in the end zone and flexed his right arm, smiling all the way back to the sideline.
The scores mark the fourth time in NFL history a player had two touchdowns rushing and two touchdowns passing in a postseason game.
Kaepernick also led another drive that David Akers finished with a 36-yard field goal to put the 49ers ahead 24-21 as the first half ended.
Frank Gore also ran for a 2-yard touchdown 3 seconds into the fourth quarter to extend San Francisco’s lead to 38-24.
Rodgers rallied the Packers after tossing his own interception. The former Cal star threw a 20-yard scoring strike to James Jones, and DaJuan Harris ran for an 18-yard touchdown.
The amped-up crowd at Candlestick Park endured a flurry of emotions at the start.
With San Francisco looking to return to the NFC title game for the second straight season, Kaepernick’s costly error quieted the 49ers faithful. Shields stepped in front of Kaepernick’s pass, shook the quarterback to the ground and scampered down the sideline to give the Packers a quick 7-0 lead.
Kaepernick converted two third downs to bring the 49ers back on their next drive. He bought time and scurried out of the pocket to find running back Gore for a 45-yard gain, then darted 20 yards up the middle on third-and-8 for the tying score.