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SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a dominant theme leading up to the 49ers' 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers in San Francisco's first game of the season. So, pay attention.

The week prior, everyone talked about the read-option play quarterback Colin Kaepernick runs like an artist. Fans talked about it. Little children talked about it. Grandmothers talked about it.

The read option — something only aficionados knew about a few years ago — became common parlance around here, the very ground of being. People in supermarkets were handing off wheat bread near the deli aisle to demonstrate the read-option.

And then the game started and the craziest two things happened. After all that noise on TV and in Green Bay and in bars, the Niners barely used the read-option. And one of the Packers' defenders, Clay Matthews by name, went absolutely bat guano over the read-option in its absence. It's always sad to see a grown man lose his mind. More on Matthews anon.

Why is it important that the 49ers did not use the read-option?

Because they could beat the Packers without it. Because they could — and did — beat the Packers playing straight-up football, playing the regular variety we've known about forever. You know — throw the ball, run the ball. Play defense when appropriate.

That's how good the 49ers are. They can beat you with trickery and they can beat you without trickery. Mostly, they just beat you.

If you want to know the truth, Kaepernick led the Niners to a win without the read option and without much of a running game, either. He led the Niners to a win by being himself.

What is himself?

Himself is an incredibly efficient passer with the quarterback's demeanor — which means nothing scares him, no how, no way.

After the game, coach Jim Harbaugh said of his quarterback, "Some laser-like throws downfield. Pinpoint accuracy. Managing the chaos of the game. Never blinked. Never flinched at any time. Just kept executing."

Harbaugh also said, "Colin throws as good or better than anybody I've ever seen on the run."

Hard to argue with that, considering Kaepernick outplayed Aaron Rodgers. He really did. He outplayed Rodgers who has better receivers. If you beamed in from Mars — not something I advocate — and watched the game and didn't know who was who, you'd pick Kaepernick as the best quarterback on the field. Kaepernick is so good, so self-reliant he is the new Brett Favre. He could turn out even better.

And that leads to this Kaepernick thought: The Niners are his team. Certainly on offense they are. His team. They could be the Kaepernicks, although "49ers" has more of a ring to it. Kaepernick beat the Packers — and the Packers are very good — with an old receiver, Anquan Boldin, and a tight end, Vernon Davis. That's about it. He beat them because Kaepernick is Kaepernick.

Why didn't he run the read-option?

"They were taking that away," he said. "They're going to dictate who has the ball."

Fascinating. Green Bay dictated who had the ball and Green Bay still got dictated to.

Kaepernick also addressed how the Packers flapped their gums before the game saying they would hit him as he performed the read-option. Matthews was the primary gum flapper — and I swear I'll get to him in a moment. "I'm not worried about what people say," Kaepernick said. "If intimidation is your game, I hope you have a better one."

Intimidation was Matthews' game. It turned him into an idiot for one play. I don't know the man. It's possible he's an idiot all the time, but let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

In the second quarter, Kaepernick ran a keeper, and Matthews, who was assigned to him on most plays — the hall monitor — ran him out of bounds and then tackled him out of bounds and, as Kaepernick fell, Matthews grabbed him around the neck like a mugger grabbing a mark in a dark alley.

Everyone knew Matthews would hit Kaepernick within the context of the game. He had said he would. No one knew Matthews would strangle Kaepernick outside the context of the game. One assumes Matthews was so brain-addled thinking about the read-option he lost track of reality for the briefest moment.

Forty-Niners' left tackle Joe Staley noticed Matthews committing battery on his quarterback and rushed over to express his opinion. He grabbed Matthews' arms — Harbaugh calls this "locking a guy up." And Staley prevented Matthews from inflicting further harm on 49ers players and peanut vendors and cheerleaders.

"I didn't want to see Kap get nailed like he did out of bounds," Staley said. "That's our guy out there. Some of it was the comments he (Matthews) made this week about going after our quarterback. I wanted just to grab him and let him know that's not going to fly."

Did Staley say anything to Matthews?

"Yeah, I said, 'That's not going to happen today.'<TH>"

You need to know what transpired on the very next play. Kaepernick hit Boldin with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Important. Extremely significant.

The Niners were saying — without having to say it — you win football games by playing football. You don't win by talking or administering cheap shots or pretending to be tough. You play football. So, on the next play the Niners played football and scored. And for the 60 minutes of the game, the 49ers played better football than the Packers. And that is the only thing that matters.

After he caught the touchdown pass, Boldin ran through the end zone and kept running to the stands where he slapped hands with fans. He was expressing joy. He also was rubbing it in.

<I>For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com</I>