The 49ers are Super Bowl-bound after knocking off the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC Championship Game, a victory in which Kaepernick calmly guided his team out of a 17-point hole before a raucous, hostile Georgia Dome crowd.
San Francisco never parted from its game plan, persistently burrowing its way back into the contest with a pounding ground game and Kaepernick's decision to trust tight end Vernon Davis. We saw Russell Wilson find his tight end, Zach Miller, repeatedly last week against the Falcons, and the 49ers did the same thing Sunday with Davis, who pulled down five catches for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Some young quarterbacks might have crumbled on the road after an ugly start, but Kaepernick didn't flinch. San Francisco's offense appeared disorganized early, with Kaepernick struggling to audible out of plays, but he settled down, and so did his team. His 16-of-21 passing performance included 233 yards and the scoring strike to Davis, part of a 28-7 run to close the game.
This wasn't the 49ers at their heady best. The read-option didn't catapult Kaepernick on the ground -- he ran for just 21 yards on two carries -- but if the Falcons slowed him on that front, they were unable to stop San Francisco's stable of backs. The 49ers blistered the Falcons for 139 yards on the ground. Seemingly every time you looked, Frank Gore was breaking off chunks of yardage and running into the second level of the defense.
Kaepernick has been praised because he can make all the throws -- and he did that with efficiency Sunday -- but even bigger than his arm was his leadership in the biggest moment of the season. He has proven that he belongs here, playing in the Super Bowl. He belongs under the brightest lights -- as do the San Francisco 49ers.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.