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Colin Kaepernick to challenge Atlanta Falcons' defense

It's hard to look more unprepared as a defense than the Green Bay Packers last week.

Led by Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers shredded Dom Capers' unit for 579 total yards in a 45-31 win that advanced the Niners to their second consecutive NFC Championship Game.

In the latest Shutdown Corner podcast with Doug Farrar, NFL Films guru Greg Cosell provided a compelling breakdown of just how successful the 49ers were in their most extensive use of the pistol formation yet.

The Niners worked out of the pistol on 34 of 75 plays from scrimmage (45 percent), a season-high. Kaepernick ran wild out of the formation, carrying the ball eight times for 102 yards. Frank Gore also found success in the pistol, carrying it 16 times for 87 yards.

Championship Sunday

Four teams are still alive in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. On Championship Sunday, that number will be cut to two. Check out NFL.com's comprehensive scouting reports on the surviving squads:

» Darlington: Niners on road to ruin?
» Kinkhabwala: Falcons face another test
» Jones: Ravens riding emotion
» Breer: Patriots savvy and spry

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The Packers' defenders on the outside seemed blindsided time and time again, but don't expect to see the same from the Atlanta Falcons, who spent the week studying this game.

So how will the Falcons attempt to slow Kaepernick? In their narrow division-round win over the Seattle Seahawks, the Falcons sat in a zone, rushed four and blitzed just seven times, according to Cosell. They essentially dared Russell Wilson to find the open receiver, which he did with regularity in the second half.

A similar scheme could keep help minimize Kaepernick as a running threat, but will he eventually pick away at the voids in the zone the same way Wilson did? Cosell believes the Falcons will play more aggressively to lead Kaepernick down a more uncertain path.

"I think they'll want Kaepernick to get frenetic," Cosell said. "They may live with one or two runs that burn them, but I think Kaepernick has a tendency to get a little frenetic, a little chaotic, and is not as consistent and efficient as Wilson when he gets like that."

How the Falcons choose to play Kaepernick -- and how he reacts to that strategy -- will go a long way in deciding who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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