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Kaepernick, 49ers run past Green Bay (again)

Well, he did it again.

GB QB Aaron Rodgers
GB QB Aaron Rodgers
Getty Images
SF QB Colin Kaepernick used his arm and his legs to beat the Green Bay Packers, 23-20, at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.
SF QB Colin Kaepernick used his arm and his legs to beat the Green Bay Packers, 23-20, at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.
Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick, that is.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback scrambled for a key first down in the final minutes.

It was just enough to best his ungracious hosts at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon.

Phil Dawson’s third field goal on the day from 33 yards away as time ran out gave the Niners a 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Micah Hyde just missed gathering in an interception prior to Kaepernick's heroics.

The turnover that wasn't would've resulted in a different outcome to be sure.

With the win, San Fran advances to take on the Carolina Panthers next week as the march to Super Bowl XLVIII continues.

It was the end of the road for the Packers in what was a most-checkered season

Starter after starter seemed to be taken off the field every week.

Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, Clay Matthews, Casey Hayward and --horrors -- Aaron Rodgers either missed huge chunks of the season or went on IR.

Despite all the ups and downs, Rodgers returned in time to lead his team to a huge win over the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title.

They won the division with a league worst, 8-7-1 mark.

It marks the third time in 12 months that the Kaepernick-led squad has bested Green Bay, sending them packing in each of the last two playoffs.

For their part, the Packers got off to an awful start.

Green Bay didn’t complete a pass in the first quarter.

Despite the roughest beginning in memory, the Packers actually led the game, 17-13, with 12:06 left.

But, as has happened all too often in the past, the defense simply could not hold serve.

Let the calls for the firing of defensive coordinator Dom Capers commence.

The Niners used just a skosh over a minute and a half to regain a lead they would never relinquish.

If there has been an Achilles heel for the Packer defense this season, it has been in the secondary.

So, when Sam Shields went out early in the first quarter, it was not the best news for this already depleted roster.

With Kaepernick going time after time to Michael Crabtree, the Niners got on the board first with a 22-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with nine minutes left in the first quarter.

The defense pressured Kaepernick after a first and goal from the six.

Thee Packers, on the other hand, went three and out in their first two possessions.

An uncharacteristic awful punt by Tim Masthay gave San Fran the ball at midfield.

The 49ers moved the ball again, but the drive stalled at almost the same place and Dawson booted a 25-yarder to make it 6-0 with 2:17 in the opener.

Which was followed by another three and out.

It was a pattern that no offense wants to get into.

For whatever reason, Rodgers and the Pack were unable to get into a rhythm.

They started off just running the ball and when they took to the air, the Niner secondary had sealed off A-Rod’s favorite targets.

In fact, the Packers failed to complete a pass in the first period.

The Niners were having their way with the Green Bay defense until Tramon Williams stepped in front of a Kaepernick missive not two minutes into the second stanza.

And then, everything started to fall into place.

Green Bay started to string together first downs with Eddie Lacy on the ground and Rodgers hitting a variety of receivers on mostly short yardage plays.

A-Rod hit Jordy Nelson for a five-yard TD pass and the Pack had the lead, 7-6, with 5:50 left in the half.

The spread offense came back to bite the Packers on the Niners’ ensuing drive.

Kaepernick broke free and dodged Green Bay defenders for 42 yards into the red zone.

Frank Gore capped it off with a 10-yard burst up the middle and San Fran retook the lead, 13-7, with 2:48 to go before intermission.

Whether it was the weather or not, it appeared that the Niner ‘D’ loosened up a bit.

Time management was a problem on Green Bay’s part in the last drive of the half.

The Packers had to burn a timeout with a minute to go on the drive.

A hands to the face infraction by left tackle David Bakhtiari wiped out a first down reception.

Mason Crosby narrowed the gap with a 34-yard field goal and the half ended, 13-10 in favor of the visitors.

The much-maligned Packers ‘D’ started to rattle Kaepernick & Co. a bit in the third.

Likewise for the Niners as the teams traded punts without making any scoring threats on either side.

Straddling the third and fourth quarters, Rodgers led a drive that gave them their second lead of this hard-fought contest.

A humongous, fourth and two pass to Randall Cobb set up a first and goal at the three.

Eddie Lacy took it to the one and then John Kuhn took the quick snap and bowled over center for the 17-13 lead with 12:46 to play.

The Niners got that right back, however.

Kaepernick ran for a key first down on their next drive and Vernon Davis beat Williams for a 28-yard touchdown catch to regain the lead, 20-17, with 10:31 to go.

It was shaping up as one of those “whoever touches it last” kind of games.

Rodgers, who had been sacked four times, most coming in the first quarter, eluded the bulrush a couple of times, keeping plays going until his receivers could break free.

One such strike to Cobb gave the Packers a first and goal from the nine as they looked for a fifth lead change.

The drive stalled and Crosby tied it at 20 apiece with 5:06 left.

It would prove to be the last gasp for this 93rd edition of the Packers

The Niners chewed up clock and Kaepernick slipped to the outside for a huge first down.

Green Bay had to burn their last two timeouts and San Fran put itself in position for Dawson’s third field goal, a 33-yarder, for the win as time expired.

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