Colin Kaepernick is changing the way we look at National Football League quarterbacks.
The former Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback turned in one of the top playoff performances by a quarterback in NFL history in a 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Candlestick Park on Saturday night.
And along the way he just might have redefined the quarterback position.
"That was unbelievable," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said after the game. "He did everything. I mean, I had read the press clippings and I've seen the highlights. But to watch what he did . . . Oh, my. That was special."
The quarterback position in the NFL will never be the same because of what Kaepernick showed what was possible.
The 6-foot-4 second-year pro ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns. The 181 rushing yards are the most by a NFL quarterback in the history of the league and that includes the playoffs and the regular season. He broke Michael Vick's records for rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff game (119). Vick also held the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a playoff or regular season game (173).
Kaepernick also became just the third quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least two touchdowns and rush for at least two touchdowns in the same game, joining Jay Cutler (2011) and Otto Graham (1954 and 1955).
"Everybody that was second guessing the decision to move from Alex (Smith) to him, I don't think they'll be questioning it anymore," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said.
Kaepernick ran for a 20-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter but it was his 56-yard scoring run for a 31-24 lead in the third quarter that put him into the NFL record book.
"We couldn't stop him," Packers cornerback Charles Woodson said. "That pretty much sums it up."
Kaepernick also tossed scoring passes of 12 and 20 yards to Michael Crabtree. And he did it all after Green Bay's Sam Shields intercepted one of his passes early in the game and returned it for a 52-yard touchdown.
Shields' play, though, did nothing to hurt Kaepernick's confidence.
"He did a great job of responding," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's got that ability to come back. And that is rare."
"There was no frustration at all," said Crabtree, who caught nine Kaepernick passes for 119 yards. "That's what I was surprised about. He was just in our ear and telling us we've gt to make a play."
Kaepernick ended up making most of the plays himself. His 444 total yards rushing and passing were more than the entire Packers team (352). And now the 49ers are in the franchise's 14th NFC title game next Sunday against either Seattle or Atlanta.
"I feel like I had a lot to prove," Kaepernick said. "A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team."
Nobody is doubting now. Kaepernick is now just a victory away from playing in his first Super Bowl.
"He's our quarterback," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "He's our leader."
"He's one of the best athletes I've ever seen," 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said.
Kaepernick is now the leader of a group of young, fast, strong quarterbacks who are taking over the league. It's a group that also includes Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III.
"He's the new style of quarterback in the NFL that can run the read option, that can pull the ball down and run it and take it the distance from anywhere on the football field, who is extremely strong-armed and accurate," Whitner said.
The 49ers have all the confidence in the world and respect for Kaepernick.
"I'm the type of man, I don;t like to be out-worked," Willis said. "But, honestly, I got to the facility (on Saturday) and he's outside already warming up. I joke with him all the time. I say, 'You've got to be one of the biggest and strongest quarterbacks I've ever seen.' But he also plays the position like a true quarterback."
Kaepernick, just like he was throughout his brilliant Wolf Pack career, was humble as usual after the game, crediting his teammates for what he accomplished against the Packers.
"Our offensive line did an amazing job," he said. "Our running backs, our receivers and our tight ends were amazing. They opened up a lot of things for me."
Kaepernick also gave credit for his record-setting day.
"It's a great accolade," he said. "I think it means a lot to this team."
His teammates, though, couldn't say enough about their young quarterback.
"Anytime your teammates have confidence in you and feel good about what you're doing, it makes you feel like you are doing the right thing," Kaepernick said.