Harbaugh clarifies his understanding of QB protection
Colin Kaepernick gained 183 yards rushing against a Dom Capers defense in the playoffs last season. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Editor's Note:This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers
Tale of the tape
Kaepernick (7): 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, third season, Nevada
Capers: Enters 28th NFL season, fifth with the Packers
The numbers are startling. For the Green Bay Packers, the numbers are embarrassing.
Colin Kaepernick rushed for more yards than any quarterback in NFL history when the 49ers dispatched the Packers from the playoffs with a 45-31 victory in an NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park in January.
Kaepernick gained 183 yards rushing -- minus 2 yards in kneeldowns to run out the clock at the end of the game -- and the 49ers amassed 579 yards of total offense.
That's all the Packers thought about -- or all anyone would let the Packers think about -- for the entire offseason. And when the NFL announced its regular-season schedule in the spring, of course, the Packers were sent to San Francisco for a playoff rematch as the 2013 opener.
"Sure, it was a disappointing performance," Capers told the Green Bay media as the Packers prepared to face the 49ers on Sunday. "We didn't get done the things we wanted to get done, so you're going to go back and critique it from all different angles and try and make the corrections you feel will give you a much better chance this time."
"We've invested our time. Hopefully, we're prepared."
The Packers' defense looked woefully unprepared to face the scrambling and read-option running of Kaepernick. The 49ers had two weeks to prepare for its first playoff game, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman added a heavy element of the read option.
Kaepernick gained 99 yards and one touchdown on read-option keepers. He also rushed for 75 yards on five scrambles off called pass plays, including a 20-yard touchdown scamper to open the scoring for the 49ers.
The Packers' apparent cluelessness on defense inspired the defensive coaching staff to travel to Texas A&M in March to spend time with Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff. The Packers wanted to discuss some of the elements of the college game that have made its way recently into the NFL.
The Packers had a week to prepare to face the 49ers in the playoffs. This time, they've had eight months of work to get ready for facing the multi-dimensional threat Kaepernick presents.
"We've had an entire offseason to focus on last year's loss," Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. "Having had that time to figure out how to defend that (read option), we feel better prepared to defend that kind of offense and what he brings to the table."
Kaepernick's running, of course, is just one element for which the Packers must be prepared. After all, he also threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers in the playoffs. And Kaepernick does not seem too concerned about what he might see as a result of Capers' ample study time.
"You can only line 11 people up so many ways, so we've seen a lot of different looks," Kaepernick said.