The championship round of the NFL playoffs was dominated in the media by the rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, but the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have their own budding rivalry to consider. Manning and Brady are known for being the top passers in the league, while Wilson and Kaepernick represent the new breed of NFL quarterback.
Kaepernick was the one making waves early in the game. He certainly didn't make things happen with his arm, but he ran the football as well as he ever has. Early in the game, San Francisco used numerous designed runs for Kaepernick, and he escaped more than his fair share of pressure. He finished with 11 carries for 130 rushing yards, all of which were pivotal in the game being close.
But at the end of the game, it was his arm that hurt the 49ers the most. Kaepernick threw an interception on the second play of the team's penultimate drive, after San Francisco came up with a huge stop and fumble recovery on the previous drive.
On San Francisco's final drive, Kapernick completed multiple big passes, including a 17-yard reception to Frank Gore for a fourth down conversion and a 16-yard pass for another. But with two timeouts remaining and the team knocking on the door of the red zone, Kaepernick made a poor, poor decision to throw a pass right at Richard Sherman, who promptly tipped it to a waiting Malcolm Smith who intercepted it to end the game.
Wilson, on the other hand, did not attempt to run the ball much. That's partly because the 49ers effectively bracketed him in, forcing him to multiple situations in which he had to throw it away, but it was still an uncharacteristically slow game from a keeper standpoint. Wilson finished with just five carries for 0 yards.
But more importantly, Wilson completed 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 215 yards. That was plenty efficient to get things done in this game, and he had a touchdown on top of that. The biggest factor in this game: Wilson did not throw any interceptions. He wasn't the most accurate and he didn't make "huge" plays all game, but he made smart decisions and that was a difference maker.
Both quarterbacks have a long, long road ahead of them in the NFL, but both have already accomplished so much. Both also have a lot to still prove, and a lot to improve on when it comes to actually throwing the ball. But it's Wilson who will get his shot at a Super Bowl ring this season, and Wilson who clearly came out ahead on Sunday.