After rushing for 100 yards in the first half and throwing a memorable touchdown pass to put his team ahead in the third quarter, Kaepernick crumbled with three fourth-quarter turnovers in a 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
Kaepernick took the blame for the Niners' loss, their first in over two months.
"I didn't play good enough to win," he said. "I turned the ball over three times. I cost us this game."
A Kaepernick turnover ended each of the Niners' final three possessions, starting with a lost fumble on a sack by Cliff Avril with 10:17 to play. On the second play of San Francisco's next drive, Kaepernick was picked off by Kam Chancellor on a sideline pass intended for Anquan Boldin. Kaepernick said he thought he could "put it over (Chancellor's) head."
Kaepernick's final mistake sunk San Francisco. Down six and inside Seattle's 30-yard line with 30 seconds to play, Kaepernick targeted Michael Crabtree in the back corner of the end zone. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman -- who you'll probably hear from over these next two weeks -- deflected the ball away from Crabtree and into the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith. Game over.
"I could've put it a little deeper in the corner and gave only Crab a chance," Kaepernick said.
It's easy to forget, but Kaepernick just completed his first full season as a starting quarterback. When Joe Montana said Kaepernick had room to improve, it was only noteworthy because of who said it. We all know Kaepernick has flaws. All quarterbacks lacking experience do.
Kaepernick will remain the answer for the Niners because there are few players in the league who can match his raw ability. But he's not there yet. On a stage like this against an opponent like that, the flaws were bound to show.The "Around The League Podcast" is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.