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49ers coach Harbaugh has nothing but praise for Kaepernick

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By Steve Corkran
Contra Costa Times
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With as many as three more playoff games remaining in inclement weather, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has ample reason to feel confident about quarterback Colin Kaepernick's ability to perform in any conditions.
"We've got a good bad-weather quarterback," Harbaugh said Monday in his day-after-game news conference. "The thing I didn't envision when we drafted Colin was how unbelievably effective he would be on a bad field. He was running like a gazelle, like he was the only one on the field."
Harbaugh, of course, referenced Kaepernick's impressive all-around play Sunday in a 23-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC wild-card game.
In that game, Kaepernick completed 16 of 30 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed for 98 yards on seven carries.
Several times, Kaepernick turned a broken play into a positive one by breaking free from the pocket, eluding a defender and turning upfield.
Kaepernick also impressed Harbaugh with his ability to control the football, even though temperatures hovered near zero and made the ball slick and harder than usual.
"He's able to throw a ball that pierces the elements," Harbaugh said. "He's showed that in the rain, too. He can pierce a defense with velocity on his throws and the tightness of his spirals."
That's comforting for Harbaugh and the 49ers, inasmuch as they play at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and might play in Seattle and New Jersey, too, if they make it as far as the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl, respectively.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 17 of 26 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown.
"Aaron Rodgers made some terrific throws," Harbaugh said. "I thought Colin arguably made more terrific throws. The touch to the backs coming out of the backfield I thought was really good. And those aren't easy climates to throw the ball and catch the ball in, to execute in."
All four of the 49ers losses this season came against teams still alive in the playoffs.
The 49ers avenged one of those losses with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 8 at Candlestick Park. They get another shot at payback Sunday.
The Panthers erased a 9-0 deficit and held on for a 10-9 victory over the 49ers in the first game of the second half of the 49ers' season. The 49ers lost to the New Orleans Saints a week later but have won seven straight since.
The Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the two other teams that beat the 49ers and remain in contention for the Super Bowl.
The 49ers could get a second crack at the Saints on Jan. 19, if the 49ers beat the Panthers and the Saints take care of the Seahawks this weekend. The 49ers and Colts need to make it to the Super Bowl for the 49ers to show that a 27-7 loss to the Colts on Sept. 22 wasn't a fluke.
49ers assistant coaches
Teams searching for head coaches have contacted the 49ers about interviewing offensive coordinator Greg Roman, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and others from Harbaugh's staff, Harbaugh said.
"It's smart on their part," he said. "Those guys are great coaches. All of them. There's nobody's that's got a better staff, in my humble opinion, than we do here."
Several reports said the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins are interested in Roman. The Redskins are interested in Fangio, according to an ESPN report.
Harbaugh said there's also interest in defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Harbaugh declined to say which teams contacted the 49ers. He did say that he expects to lose at least one more coach. Offensive line co-coach Tim Drevno was hired by USC last week.
Running wild
Kaepernick rushed for 279 yards against the Packers in playoff games last season and Sunday. That represents the most such yardage by a quarterback against one team in postseason history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Otto Graham amassed 163 rushing yards in three NFL title games against the Los Angeles Rams (1950, 1951, and 1955).
What's more, Kaepernick rushed for 362 yards in his first four postseason games, which places him fifth among quarterbacks in league history. Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young holds the record with 594, though he needed 20 games.
Big day for Dawson
In addition to kicking the game-winning field goal Sunday, Phil Dawson became the first player in 48 years to convert three or more field-goal attempts without a miss in a playoff game at Lambeau Field. Paul Hornung (1961) and Don Chandler (1966) are the others.
Harbaugh said he was prepared to give Dawson a shot at a game-winning field goal from as far as 53 yards. As it turned out, the 49ers got Dawson close enough to win the game with a 33-yarder.
Story tags » NFL

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