Lowell Cohn: Colin Kaepernick needs to use his arm to beat Panthers

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Colin Kaepernick had an impressive game against the Packers last Sunday and he was impressive at the end of the season, mostly against mediocre teams. He did not win the Packers game for the 49ers all by himself. The Niners' world-class defense won the game. But Kaepernick did his part and he was impressive.

It's important to define "impressive" in Kaepernick's case. He was impressive, but he was not Joe Montana impressive.

This is the essence of Joe Montana impressive. Drop back calmly. See everything there is to see. See it in a flash. Read your receivers in sequence, one two three, and throw the ball exactly where it has to go. Throw it to the receiver's numbers. Easy as pie for the receiver. Soft. Smooth. Lovely. If protection breaks down, move subtly in the pocket always keeping your eyes on the prize.

That is Joe Montana impressive.

Kaepernick does not do that kind of impressive. His passer rating against the Packers was 75.3. In most grading systems 75 is a straight "C." It's a passing grade but it's the essence of average or, if you will, mediocre. My mom used to call a "C" pedestrian.

It's unusual to think of Kaepernick as pedestrian when he's so great at running.

His greatest contribution against the Packers was his running, his legs. Running is how he impresses. He ran for 98 yards and kept drives going and, frankly, took your breath away if the savage cold had not already done that. He was that kind of impressive.

If he is that kind of impressive, why would anyone quibble or carp or complain?

Fair question. The answer requires a look at history.

When the Carolina Panthers -#8212; the 49ers' next opponent -#8212; came to San Francisco on Nov. 10, beat the 49ers in their own place, the 49ers scored nine points.

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