Programming note: Tune into 49ers Central tonight at 7pm for the latest on the 49ers leading up to Sunday’s NFC Championship in Atlanta, only on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area.
The dust had barely settled from Atlanta surviving Seattle in an NFL divisional playoff game and surely, visions of Russell Wilson running all over the Georgia Dome turf had yet to dissipate when the thought of another running quarterback entered the fray.
All Colin Kaepernick had done was set an NFL rushing record for a quarterback by running for 181 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown, in the 49ers' defeat of Green Bay, and now he'd be paying a visit to the Falcons with a trip to the Super Bowl in the line.
"He’s a much taller player than Russell (Wilson)," Falcons coach Mike Smith said in his Monday media conference. "On the watch, when (Kaepernick) runs he’s probably faster. He had one heck of a ballgame on Saturday night running the football and setting an all-time record for quarterbacks. It’s going to be a big challenge. There are some similarities in terms of what they do offensively, but there are a lot of things that are a little bit different."
For one thing, Kaepernick has a rocket for an arm. In fact, he reminds Smith more of one of the NFC South division rivals the Falcons face twice a year -- Carolina's Cam Newton.
"He’s physically different than Russell, and I think he’s probably between Russell and Cam," Smith said of Kaepernick. "Probably closer to Cam in terms of the stature. As I mentioned, on the clock he runs extremely fast."
Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said the evolution of the multi-threat quarterback is merely a part of the game.
"Our job is to bring the quarterback down, no matter his style of play," Babineaux said after the Falcons' 30-28 white-knuckle defeat of the Seahawks, after the Falcons blew a 20-0 lead and trailed 28-27 with 31 seconds to play.
"Obviously, a mobile quarterback can make that task a bit more difficult, but we made enough plays to win (against Seattle)."
A key for the Falcons, then, would seem to be for their defensive backs to not turn their backs on Kaepernick. Easier said than done, right?
"You’ve got to have vision on defense and you can't match up and play match coverages or man-to-man because when he gets into the secondary he’s a guy that can go the distance," Smith said. "He outran a number of fast players in the ballgame on Saturday night."