When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick scampered 56 yards for a touchdown on Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers, it not only put his team ahead for good, but cemented one of the best all-round displays by a first time playoff quarterback.
Nothing seems to faze Kaepernick. He plays with tremendous confidence. So much so that the early setback of an interception ran back for a score, on only the second play of the game, failed to take the wind out of his sails.
Instead what we witnessed after was something that we have become more used to seeing from more accomplished players in his position. The fact that outdueled Tom Brady earlier in the season is testament to his play, and on this wild night in the Bay Area he again rose to the occasion and beat another established playcaller, Aaron Rodgers.
This game was always going to be test of the young QB. His first playoff start. The pressure of carrying the Niners legacy on his shoulders. Having to again justify his coaches’ decision to put him in the game, over the more experienced Alex Smith.
The Arizona Cardinals have entered their second weekend since the firing of former head coach Ken Whisenhunt and virtually all of his offensive staff. Since then, there has been no shortage of speculation about who will take over as head coach, several confirmed interviews and multiple others reported, but the team, it would seem, remain no closer to making their final decision. Many fans have praised the team for not rushing headlong into a poor decision, and taking their time to do what team president Michael Bidwell would call his "due diligence".
Nonetheless, as time drags on, fans have been forced to watch as potential head coach targets have been snapped up, and assistants rumored to fill out the Cardinals staff have been signed elsewhere. Some are now starting to hope that maybe the team is close to making a final decision, and ready to get on with the tough task of filling out the remainder of the offensive coaching staff. Certainly, the team have no shortage of qualified candidates available, so today, we look at each of those who remain in the running.
Ray Horton - Defensive Coordinator. Arizona Cardinals
Can Matt Ryan finally win a playoff game? Have the Seattle Seahawks suddenly become road warriors? Let's dig into this compelling match-up and see where the value lies.
Here's an interesting point spread to talk about. Last week in the Vegas look-ahead lines, the Falcons were listed as -3 point favorites vs the Seahawks, but after Seattle handled the Redskins they re-opened it at -2.5.
So what's changed during the week? Well, not much. Perhaps reluctantly, most books have moved the line to -3 with a bit extra juice if you like the underdog (odds from SBRforum). Essentially this line sits at -2.75 so if you like the Falcons you can grab -2.5 at an affordable price too.
The Dark Cloud of Failure
The Falcons coaches and players can talk all they want about how they aren't thinking about their lack of playoff success, but that's the most obvious lie of the century.
San Francisco 49ers Commentary: Colin Kaepernick's Big Play Potential Can Push 49ers To The Super Bowl
Colin Kaepernick offers the big play potential that can push the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl. Head coach Jim Harbaugh's team missed that capability in last year's playoffs.
Harbaugh's decision to insert Kaepernick ahead of incumbent Alex Smith, naturally provoked some controversy. After all, Smith had posted a more than respectable 104.1 rating as the starter. However, Smith was efficient, rather than dynamic. In fact his impressive rating owed much to his average of only eight yards a completion. Smith was relying on safe, steady plays.
They worked in 2011, as a complement to a bruising running game and a suffocating defense. Yet that formula would only ever take the 49ers so far. In order to take that crucial last step, San Francisco needed to pose more of a downfield, game-breaking threat to opposing teams.
Kaepernick's skill set has naturally expanded the offense. It starts with a passing game that is noticeably more vertical, since the second-year pro took over. Kaepernick has greater arm strength than Smith offers and the results have been obvious.
Arizona Cardinals News: Steve Keim Promotion May Signal That Cardinals Are Close To Naming Known Candidate as Head Coach.
The Arizona Cardinals have made their first hiring since firing their general manager and most of their offensive coaching staff, promoting Steve Keim to general manager. The promotion was not particularly surprising, given that the other candidate named—Morocco Brown—was a virtual unknown interviewed seemingly only to fulfill Rooney's rule. Keim was well known to be on a path to a GM's job, and was reportedly in the running for several other positions had the Cardinals not made him the offer. Keim had, according to president Michael Bidwell, always felt like a natural fit, and had even sat in on head coaching interviews in advance of his promotion.
Nonetheless, naming Keim as general manager before announcing a head coach, or even the completion of all interviews, may indicate that the organization have already zeroed in on a candidate who is already familiar with Keim, and whom he is comfortable with. Though outside interest in Keim may have forced the Cardinals hand, both the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars—with whom Keim had been linked—hired others for their GM positions implying that, perhaps, the Cardinals needn't have rushed.