SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers are a win away from the Super Bowl, led there by Colin Kaepernick's stunning ability to turn a disastrous start into a record-setting evening.
Kaepernick's spry legs and rocket arm keyed their 45-31, playoff-opening win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night at Candlestick Park, thus sending the 49ers into their second consecutive NFC Championship game.
The 49ers (12-4-1) will play next Sunday at noon for the right to play in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
They'll face the winner of Sunday's game between the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons (13-3) and visiting Seattle Seahawks (12-5). If the fifth-seeded Seahawks win, the 49ers will host the NFC final for a second straight year, having lost last year's NFC title game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The second-seeded 49ers set a franchise record for most yards in a playoff game with 579, surpassing their total of 537 yards in a Super Bowl XIX win against the Miami Dolphins in January 1985.
"Everybody was in on it. It was one of our better games, offensively," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "They competed like maniacs, and now we have another week of work."
Kaepernick, who used that "maniac" term to describe Harbaugh on a recent radio interview, took over Saturday's game with his multidimensional skill set.
Making his playoff debut, Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, but his bigger impact
"That's ridiculous, almost 200 yards rushing from a quarterback," said 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith, who strongly returned from a two-game absence. "I don't care who you are, you're not going to win against that."
The 49ers totaled 323 rushing yards. The Packers' yard sale resembled one by the Buffalo Bills, who allowed 311 rushing yards and 621 overall to the 49ers in a 45-3 rout Oct. 7.
Kaepernick deflected credit on his rushing record, stating: "It's a great accolade that means a lot to the team. The offensive line did an amazing job, and so did the receivers and running backs. They opened up a lot of things for me."
That super-sized production came after a game-opening disaster, as Kaepernick's second pass was intercepted by Sam Shields and returned 52 yards for a 7-0 Packers lead.
"He does a great job of responding," Harbaugh said. "That's rare. He has that ability to come back. It's hard for a quarterback after throwing an interception to respond with a scoring drive."
But just as he did after his three regular-season interceptions, Kaepernick immediately countered with a touchdown drive. This time, he ran 20 yards to tie the score at 7.
His second touchdown run, however, is what really set the tone for a second-half surge. Kaepernick emphatically snapped a 24-24 tie with a 56-yard touchdown run, putting his rushing total at 163 yards and leaving him 10 yards shy of Michael Vick's 2002 record with the Atlanta Falcons.
That third-quarter touchdown also pushed Kaepernick past Roger Craig's previous franchise playoff record of 135 rushing yards in a Jan. 1, 1989, game against Minnesota.
"To see a quarterback run the way he runs, that's unbelievable," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said.
The 49ers' lead surged to 38-24 when Frank Gore scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to open the fourth quarter. Setting up that touchdown -- the 49ers' fifth of the night -- was a 44-yard catch by Vernon Davis, his only reception of the night and seventh in seven games.
With 3:34 left, the 49ers went ahead 45-24 when third-string running back Anthony Dixon scored on a 2-yard touchdown run.
That 45-point total marked the 49ers' third-highest scoring output in a playoff game. It was more than enough support for a 49ers defense that welcomed back Smith, who said his partially torn left triceps tendon felt "pretty good" after his full-game workload.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Chico native and Cal product, finished 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Both of Kaepernick's touchdown passes went to Michael Crabtree, and both second-quarter scoring drives were set up by Packers turnovers. C.J. Spillman recovered a muffed punt to set up Crabtree's 12-yard touchdown catch for a 14-14 tie. Some 5½ minutes later, the 49ers parlayed a Tarell Brown interception into Crabtree's second touchdown -- a 20-yarder from Kaepernick for a 21-14 lead.
Crabtree finished with nine receptions for 119 yards, an exceptional comeback from last season's NFC Championship game loss in which he had only a 3-yard catch.
Crabtree assessed the 49ers' situation and stated: "We're in the same place. It's all about the next game."
For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers.