The San Francisco 49ers had every chance to win a second straight NFC championship on Jan. 19. Not only did the 49ers take a 10-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks, in a stadium where they had been blown out in their last two visits, Colin Kaepernick was destroying the Seahawks with his legs. But while Kaepernick put the 49ers in position to win, he also ensured they lost with three fourth quarter turnovers in a 23-17 defeat.
Kaepernick's first troubling sign came when the 49ers stripped Russell Wilson on the game's first play, but couldn't even get a first down in the red zone. Settling for a field goal came back to haunt San Francisco later, yet it still looked good when Kaepernick got to 100 rushing yards by the second quarter. At that point, it didn't matter that Kaepernick was doing much less with his arm.
When the Seahawks recovered to tie the score in the third, Kaepernick finally came through with a big throw, as he connected with Anquan Bolden for the go-ahead touchdown. It took a fourth-and-seven touchdown throw in the fourth for the Seahawks to get the lead back -- and that's when the wheels fell off for Kaepernick and the 49ers.
It was Kaepernick's turn to get stripped on the next possession, yet San Francisco found a way to stuff Seattle at the goal line. But Kaepernick responded by throwing an interception to Kam Chancellor, although the 49ers kept the Seahawks to a field goal. Three plays later, Kaepernick faced a fourth down with the season and the NFC championship on the line.
That's when the good Kaepernick returned, finding Frank Gore on a big throw to keep San Francisco alive. The 49ers then got as close as the Seahawks' 18-yard-line with under half a minute left and two timeouts. One more good throw would have put Kaepernick on a Joe Montana-like level in San Francisco -- yet he threw a pass that got tipped by Richard Sherman and caught by Seattle's Malcolm Smith instead.
It was the second straight postseason that ended with Kaepernick unable to complete a big comeback, with mere yards to spare. As much as he did to get San Francisco on the brink, it was not enough yet again -- and now the 49ers have to start wondering when he will give them enough in January and February.