49ers-Falcons key matchup No. 2: Kaepernick vs. DeCoud

Kap on avoiding big hits: 'Run where they're not'

49ers-Falcons key matchup No. 2: Kaepernick vs. DeCoud
January 17, 2013, 5:15 pm
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This is the fourth part in a series that spotlights five 49ers-Falcons matchups to watch Sunday, noon, at the Georgia Dome in the NFC Championship Game.

Matchup No. 5: Justin Smith vs. Justin Blalock
Matchup No. 4: Patrick Willis vs. Tony Gonzalez
Matchup No. 3: Greg Roman vs. Mike Nolan

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Falcons FS Thomas DeCoud

Tale of the tape
Kaepernick (7): 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, second season, Nevada
DeCoud (28): 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, fifth season, Cal

Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated an uncanny ability to rebound after making a bad play.

Those bad plays have not occurred too often since Kaepernick took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback. He threw four interceptions in his first eight starts. Each time, he came back to lead a touchdown drive on the 49ers' next possession.

"As a quarterback, when you throw an interception in a game, there's just a tendency the next time to double-check things," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "You're double-checking, then double-checking. And that's not the way to do it."

Said Kaepernick, "We have to score. That's our whole offensive mentality, that we have to bounce back from a turnover."

It happened Saturday night when Kaepernick's second pass attempt of the game resulted in an interception and touchdown return against the Green Bay Packers' Sam Shields. On the 49ers' next possession, Kaepernick led an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with his 20-yard touchdown run.

The man in the Falcons secondary that will be watching Kaepernick the closest is free safety Thomas DeCoud, who led the Falcons with six interceptions during the regular season.

DeCoud will also carry a lot of responsibility in the middle of the field when it comes to containing Kaepernick's scrambling ability.

"He's a physical player, good instincts, definitely not afraid to hit you and he has a good feel for the game," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said of DeCoud.

Kaepernick's interception against the Packers came when he pulled the ball down when primary target Michael Crabtree slipped and fell coming out of his break. Kaepernick readjusted and tried to throw to Vernon Davis on the other side of the field.

DeCoud figures to have his eyes on Kaepernick -- looking for a big opportunity -- throughout Sunday's game.

"He definitley is good at reading the quarterback," Roman said. "We know that, and we have real respect for him."