SAN FRANCISCO -- Colin Kaepernick made it all look so easy Saturday night. He galloped down the field like Secretariat at the Belmont, all challengers kept at distance, as if the Packers barely existed. He racked up 444 yards total offense in an NFL playoff game, his first playoff appearance.
One game amounts to the quintessential small sample size, unworthy of hype outside the moment, resistant to sensible projection. But 444 yards total offense -- 77 percent of the 49ers’ obscene team total of 579 -- and 181 yards rushing, a new rushing record for NFL quarterbacks? That’s almost two games in one. It was a transformative performance for a young player who didn’t require transformation. In seven starts this season, Kaepernick had already established himself as a star on the rise, part of the new wave of QBs that will wean the NFL as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees age out of the game.