It was supposed to be a matchup between the unstoppable force of the New England Patriots offense and the immovable object of the San Francisco 49ers defense.
For three quarters of football, the tables were turned. The San Francisico 49ers, under the leadership of second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, were winning 31-10. Suddenly, the 49ers were the unstoppable force.
Then, in half a quarter, the score was tied. Future Hall of Famer Tom Brady did what future Hall of Famers do. He lead his team back into the game. Suddenly, the score was tied 31-31 with a little over 6 minutes left.
49ers Second round draft pick LaMichael James took the kickoff back into New England territory. Colin Kaepernick, the second year quarterback who took over the starting job from Alex Smith five games before, lined up behind center. The 49ers had previously gone four straight possessions without a score.
All it took was one throw. With one throw, Kaepernick connected with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Crabtree broke one tackle and ran the rest of the way into the end zone.
It was bang bang. In a matter of seconds, San Francisco lost the lead and then regained it.
It was up to the defense. It was time to find out if the number one ranked defense in the NFL, the defense who played like the number one ranked defense in the NFL for three quarters, could re-discover the magic. A sack and failed 4th down conversion later they did.
The 49ers got a field goal off the turnover. The score stood at 41-31 in San Francisco’s favor. New England charged down the field and got a field goal of their own. 41-34. Less than a minute to go and New England was banking on an onside kick.
Onside kicks are always risky, and, for New England, their risk was not rewarded. The 49ers recovered the kick and ran out the clock.
A second straight playoff appearance under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh was clinched.
This was a marquee matchup and a possible Super Bowl preview. Colin Kaepernick proved he can play with the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the 49ers, who came to Foxborough as underdogs, proved they may just be a force to be reckoned with come February.
For more on the surprising rise of Colin Kaepernick, read this Inquisitrarticle posted earlier this season.
Do you think the 49ers can beat the Patriots again if they meet in the Super Bowl.