We all have some painful memories of the Green Bay Packers’ failures. For me, the worst one goes back to January 12, 2013.
The Packers went 11-5 that year, and began the playoffs by easily dispatching the Vikings by a 24-10 score at home. They then traveled to the Bay area to take on the San Francisco 49ers, which had the better record at 13-3.
Green Bay was feeling confident, as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had made the daring mid-season decision to insert second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the starting lineup – ahead of the reliable Alex Smith. This game constituted Kaepernick’s eighth NFL start and his postseason debut.
By game’s end, Kaepernick had dismantled the Packers’ defense. He passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers’ offense rang up 579 yards in all.
His most stunning stats, though, were his rushing numbers. He ran for a quarterback record of 181 yards on 16 carries – an average of 11.3 yards per carry. Many of these were on read-option plays that left the Packers defense completely befuddled.
In playoff history, Kaepernick joined only two others, the odd pair of Otto Graham and Jay Cutler, in passing and running for two touchdowns each. His rushing touchdowns were sprints of 20 and 56 yards. I’ll never get that last one out of my head – it was like a man against a bunch of boys.
Kaepernick may or may not start tonight – he’s in a tight battle with Blaine Gabbert for the starter’s job. Either way though, he’ll see plenty of action. It’s a critical game that might determine how the rest of his career will unfold. He’ll be amped.
Will the Packers be similarly revved up? Even though it wouldn’t be the norm for a preseason affair, maybe the coaches have played some tape of that beat-down from four and a half years ago.
I hope so, because, preseason or not, it’s never the wrong time for some small measure of revenge against a guy who a few years ago almost single-handedly knocked a very good Packers’ team out of the playoffs.