Early in the season, when Alex Smith was still playing, the San Francisco 49ers looked like the most complete team in the NFL and the favorites out of the NFC to reach the Super Bowl. A few months have passed, Colin Kaepernick took over the quarterback position, but nothing really changed: The 49ers came out as the best team in the NFC.
The Regular Season
The 49ers opened the season as one of the hot favorites to win the NFC, proving that reputation by beating the Green Bay Packers 30-22 on the opening weekend, followed by a 27-19 win against the Detroit Lions. Losing to the Minnesota Vikings 24-13 did cause a small reason of alarm, but that was followed with two wins against the Jets and the Bills by a total score of 79-3.
They lost to the New York Giants a week later (26-3 at home), with Smith sacked six times and throwing three interceptions, probably signaling Harbaugh to start looking at the backup, Kaepernick. After two more wins against Seattle and Arizona, the change came. In a game that ended up as a tie with the St. Louis Rams, Smith was injured and replaced by Kaeprnick, who took over the starting job for the rest of the season, going 5-2 as a starter, leading to wins against the Bears, Saints, Dolphins, Patriots and Cardinals with losses to the Rams and the Seahawks in between.
The 49ers won their division for a second consecutive season with an 11-4-1 record, earning a bye week in the playoffs.
The 49ers showed two sides of their offense in the playoffs. In the divisional round they beat the Green Bay Packers 45-31, creating the big separating midway through the third quarter. Colin Kaepernick had a good throwing day (263 yards, two touchdowns) but a huge day on the ground with 181 yards and two more scores. Aaron Rodgers was intercepted once and another turnover was forced on the Packers, while Frank Gore ran for 119 yards and Michael Crabtree had a great receiving day with 119 yards.
The NFC championship game was about Kaepernick being contained in the pocket, but showing his ability to throw while Frank Gore and the offensive line take care of the rest. They beat the Falcons 28-24 despite going behind 0-17 in the first half. Kaepernick competed 16 of his 21 passes for a touchdown and 233 yards, while the Niners ran for 149 more. Matt Ryan was intercepted once.
The 49ers are the second best team in the postseason when it comes to converting third downs (only behind the Falcons), coming up with the play the needed 52.6% of the time. Their 476 yards per game is the highest in the playoffs, helped by their massive 236 rushing yards per game. Kaepernick has a 105.9 passer rating in the postseason, second only to Flacco, but his 9.5 yards per attempt are the best in the postseason. Their 6.6 yards per rushing attempt is also the highest in the postseason.