SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The 49ers are favored in Sunday’s NFC Championship game in Atlanta after quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the team to a 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers.

“I wonder how many people somewhere during that game had to eat their words,” John Madden told the KCBS morning crew, referring to critics of coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision to replace former starter Alex Smith with Kaepernick. “Jim Harbaugh knew what he was doing. He knew what Colin Kaepernick eventually could do. I don’t know that he knew he could do it this quickly and this well. It’s a change for the long term.”

After throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown in their opening drive, Kaepernick led the 49ers to a touchdown on the next possession, and finished the game with 181 rushing yards, an NFL record for a quarterback.

“He reminded me of Kenny Stabler,” Madden said of the Raiders star he coached. “Ken Stabler was the kind of a guy that when the going got hot, he got cool… (Kaepernick) runs, he passes, he has all those things. But (on) that big stage, that young quarterback having some adversity right off the bat, it didn’t affect him at all… He not only had command of the offense and what they were doing, but as the game went on, he had command of the whole game.”

Seattle lost their playoff game to Atlanta, but John said he’s looking forward to future games between Kaepernick’s 49ers and Russell Wilson’s Seahawks. “Just a couple of years ago, this was a dog division. And now, you look at those two young quarterbacks, this is going to be a heck of a division.” (8:35)

Listen to the John Madden segment live weekday mornings at 8:15 on KCBS All News 740 AM/106.9 FM. And catch John’s extra report at 9:15 a.m. Mondays and Fridays through the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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