Kaepernick took a late, out-of-bounds hit from Matthews in the second quarter and showed no signs of slowing down, throwing for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns, with 13 completions to Anquan Boldin in San Francisco's season-opening 34-28 victory Sunday.
Boldin's sensational San Francisco debut helped keep his team on quite a roll in what has evolved into a fierce NFC rivalry. And Vernon Davis did his part in a prolific passing game led by Kaepernick.
From Super Bowl champion Baltimore to contender again with another coach named Harbaugh, Boldin was unstoppable. He finished with 208 yards receiving and a 10-yard touchdown.
Davis made a pair of TD catches for the NFC champion Niners.
Boldin sure showed he is a reliable replacement for injured Michael Crabtree.
"We knew they were going to come in ready to play after what happened in the playoffs," Boldin said. "We had to come out and match their intensity."
Boldin sure has a knack for season openers, delivering with 10 catches for 217 yards in his first career game with Arizona, seven catches for 110 yards in his first outing for the Ravens in 2010 - then this superb outing.
Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, but the Packers departed from Candlestick Park with another defeat eight months after that embarrassing postseason game.
Boldin came back from an apparent twisted right knee early in the fourth quarter to deliver a 43-yard catch in the decisive drive. He also converted on fourth down with a 15-yard catch that set up Phil Dawson's late 33-yard field goal.
"He made plays he shouldn't have made," Kaepernick said.
Standout rookies, stellar debuts, ill will - this one had it all. In a picture-perfect setting, to boot, as Candlestick Park kicked off its farewell season.
Matthews made his mark, and in hindsight maybe not the way he wanted.
The Packers promised to target Kaepernick, but they probably meant for it to be in bounds. It wasn't.
"First off, it wasn't a very smart play," he said. "I'd already committed to hitting the quarterback. I guess I should've figured he was going to step out of bounds. But it's nothing personal. I went up to him later and was joking around with him."
"I'll try to do a better job just keeping my cool," Staley said. "I didn't want see Kaep get nailed like he did out of bounds. That's our guy out there. I'll protect anybody. Anything I feel like is outside the rules ... some of it was the comments he made this week about going after the quarterback. I wanted to grab him and let him know that's not going to fly. That's all I did."
San Francisco took the lead on that play when Kaepernick found Boldin for a 10-yard touchdown. Had it been fourth down, the Niners might have tried a field goal.
"The down should have counted," referee Bill Leavy said after the game. "The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down."
Harbaugh, whose big brother, John, previously coached Boldin before trading him away, became the first coach in 49ers franchise history to win each of his first three season openers.
Davis had six catches for 98 yards on a sun-drenched day at sold-out Candlestick, where portable fans were used on the sidelines to keep players cool.
He made a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the first to give him at least one TD reception in each of his five regular-season games against Green Bay, then added a 2-yard TD reception in the third.
Davis made a pretty, reaching 37-yard catch on San Francisco's ensuing drive. Matthews sacked Kaepernick for a 7-yard loss and the Niners settled for a 27-yard field goal by Dawson, who hooked an earlier 48-yard attempt wide left.
Green Bay's defense spent nearly eight months determined to find ways to stop San Francisco's reliable read option and big-play, running quarterback after Kaepernick ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards in the playoff win. So San Francisco switched things to a more wide-open passing attack.
"I'm just happy we put on film we can do whatever we want," Gore said.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press