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Colin Kaepernick a tall task for Atlanta Falcons' D

Sunday's NFC title matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons will be picked apart and placed under the microscope this week.

The 49ers have struggled historically in road playoff games, but the Falcons have a problem of their own to confront: Mobile quarterbacks have wreaked havoc on Atlanta this season.


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Colin Kaepernick, in case you missed it, is a mobile quarterback. The 49ers' second-year passer shattered an NFL postseason record for rushing yards by a quarterback when he torched the Green Bay Packers for 181 and two touchdowns on the ground. More than 90 percent of those yards came with Kaepernick running untouched.

That should put the Falcons on alert. Atlanta struggled to contain Cam Newton this season. The Carolina Panthers quarterback racked up more than 700 yards in two games against Atlanta. In Sunday's win over Seattle, the Falcons let Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson go off to the tune of 385 passing yards, and another 60 running the ball. Big chunks of yardage through the air were the result of Wilson escaping the pass rush and extending plays.

The Falcons fared better against Robert Griffin III, who picked up just seven yards on the ground in Week 5 before leaving the game with an injury.

It's not just quarterback mobility, but read-option concepts that have caused problems for the Falcons. They're not alone in that category -- NFL defenses have struggled all season against the option -- but Atlanta must accomplish what the Packers could not against San Francisco.

"The execution for the 49ers on the read option was excellent," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told The Sacramento Bee. "... We did not do a very good job of keeping (Kaepernick) in the pocket. He was able to get out of the pocket for a number of big conversions there in the first half. We weren't able to get off the field and try to make some adjustments in our defensive calls, pass-rushing lanes and so forth. We did not accomplish that."

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"He's a much taller player than Russell -- and probably faster," Falcons coach Mike Smith told NFL.com's Jeff Darlington on Monday. "It's going to be a big challenge."

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has done a nice job with Atlanta's defense this season. The team isn't 13-3 because they haven't game-planned well. It will be fascinating to watch what Atlanta comes up with this Sunday to contain Kaepernick and the 49ers. Later in the week, we'll take a look at what San Francisco must do to stop Matt Ryan and an explosive passing game from the Falcons.

Title week is upon us.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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