Never in the proud history of the NFL had someone done what Colin Kaepernick did on Saturday night at Candlestick.
Stride by long stride, he rewrote the record books en route to leading the 49ers to a 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers, sending San Francisco back to the NFC Championship game for the second straight season.
But as he took to the podium following his historic performance, the last thing Kaepernick wanted to do was talk about himself. Asked what it was like to account for more than 400 yards of offense and four touchdowns, Kaepernick quickly deflected praise to everyone else on the offense.
"Our offensive line played great today," Kaepernick said. "They did a lot of things well up front, our running backs ran well and our receivers made plays."
Try as he might, Kaepernick couldn't stay out of the limelight on Saturday night. Not when you rush 16 times for an NFL-record 181 rushing yards, the most for any quarterback in any game in league history.
How's that for a playoff debut?
"It's a great accolade and I think it means a lot to this team," Kaepernick said. "Our offensive line did an amazing job, our receivers, running back and tight ends were doing an amazing job. They opened up a lot of things for me."
Kaepernick rushed for two scores against the Packers, one by design and one by the seat of his pants.
The first touchdown in the first quarter was a bit of a reprieve, as he bolted out of the pocket on a well-covered pass play and sprinted into the end zone untouched for a 20-yard score. It came just minutes after Kaepernick threw an interception on the fourth play from scrimmage, one that was returned by Sam Shields 52 yards for a touchdown.
But instead of fret in the face of adversity, Kaepernick stayed calm and stayed the course.
"It was no frustration at all," Michael Crabtree said of Kaepernick. "That's what I was surprised about. He was in our ear and telling us, 'We've got to make a play.'"
Instead of just saying it, Kaepernick did it, too.
His first touchdown run was just the precursor for things to come, as he also tossed two touchdowns to Crabtree to finish 17 of 31 for 263 yards. It was an effort for the ages and showcased Kaepernick as one of the rare talents that football has ever seen.
Asked if he wanted to be known as a passer or runner, Kaepernick said, "I don't want to be categorized."
The second-year signal-caller really showed why he's in a league of his own in the second half.
Kaepernick turned in the highlight of the night in the third quarter, when he kept the ball on a read option after a great play fake to LaMichael James. The fake handoff deked the defensive end on the right side of the line and Kaepernick took advantage, sprinting down the right side of the field untouched for a 56-yard touchdown.
Bedlam broke out at Candlestick as Kaepernick's touchdown gave the 49ers a 31-24 lead at the 7:07 mark in the third quarter, putting the 49ers in front after the fourth tie of the game in a back-and-forth affair.
San Francisco wouldn't trail the rest of the game.
"Everybody that was second guessing the decision to move from Alex (Smith) to him," respected teammate Donte Whitner said. "I don't think they'll be questioning it any more. He's that new-style quarterback in the National Football League that can run the read option, that can pull the ball down, run it and take it the distance from anywhere on the football field; extremely strong-armed, accurate.
"He's our quarterback, he's our leader and he did a great job out there today."
Kaepernick did it all.
He showed he can thread the needle, as evidenced by the dart he delivered in tight coverage to Crabtree on a post route for his second touchdown of the night, a 20-yard catch in second quarter. Kaepernick also showed he can put touch on the ball, as he showed on a perfectly-thrown, 44-yard pass to Vernon Davis in the second half.
Even in the game's late stages with the 49ers holding a 38-24 lead, Kaepernick showed his skill by drawing Green Bay offsides with a hard count on 4th-and-short to move the chains. Ultimately, Anthony Dixon capped off that drive with San Francisco's sixth touchdown of the night, making it 45-24 with 3:34 left in the game.
As he witnessed Kaepernick's career day, 49ers captain Joe Staley wasn't surprised. He sees Kaepernick on a daily basis at team headquarters.
"I'm the type of man I don't like to be outworked," Willis said. "But honestly I get there to the facility and he's outside already warming up and I think he works out every day. I joke with him all the time, I say, 'You've got to be one of the biggest and strongest quarterbacks I've seen.' But he plays the position like a true quarterback and that's what it's going to take.
"I'm just happy to see him do that and he's done well for us today. It doesn't stop here."
All the while Willis heaped praise on his young teammate, Kaepernick stood silent in the interview waiting for his turn to speak. Maybe one of these days he'll take credit for the amazing things he's doing on the football field, but for now we'll just have to listen to the warm words of his teammates.
"It's great," Kaepernick said. "Anytime your teammates have confidence in you and they feel good about what you're doing, it makes you feel like you're doing the right thing."