SANTA CLARA -- General manager Trent Baalke traded three draft picks to move up nine spots and select Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 draft's second round. That move is paying dividends in the 49ers' playoff run.

Kaepernick's playoff debut Saturday night produced a 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers that vaulted the 49ers into this Sunday's NFC Championship game against the host Atlanta Falcons.

Aside from passing for two touchdowns and rushing for two more, Kaepernick's 181 rushing yards were the most ever in a game by an NFL quarterback.

"When he gets out in the open, not many guys are going to track him down," Baalke said Monday on his weekly radio show, on 95.7 The Game. "We envisioned that. Did we envision it all happening at once, like it did Saturday? I can't say we did, but we know it's within him."

Kaepernick was drafted 36th overall out of Nevada. He was the sixth quarterback taken, behind Cam Newton (Panthers), Jake Locker (Titans), Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars), Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Andy Dalton (Bengals).

The 49ers used their 2011 first-round draft pick on outside linebacker Aldon Smith, then moved up to take Kaepernick with the fourth pick of the next day's second round. In return, they sent the Denver Broncos picks in the second round (45th overall), fourth round (108th) and fifth round (141st).

"First of all I didn't draft him. We drafted him," Baalke said. "Obviously he's made plays like that his whole career at a collegiate level, with both his arm and feet. He's an explosive athlete."

In his eighth career start, Kaepernick's second pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown and 7-0 deficit. He finished 17 of 31 for 263 yards and a 91.2 passer rating. Said Baalke: "How you overcome mistakes really defines who you are as a player. We're getting a glimpse of who No. 7 is as a player."

Here is what else Baalke had to say in his interview (Note: Baalke does not give media interviews outside of his weekly radio show):

  • On Justin Smith's return after he missed two games with a torn triceps: "He's fine. Performance wise, it was typical Justin. I didn't see him holding back at all, there wasn't a drop off in his performance. He's another one, he's just wired right. You know what you're getting every day, every snap. When you can count on that as a defense, it makes it a lot easier on everyone else around him."

  • On if Justin Smith reached his expectations: "We were confident he was going to be as close to 100 percent. He got the extra week. He probably could have played a week earlier if we needed him to. He's as healthy as he's going to be for the rest of the year. He's going to have to get a procedure at the end of the season, which has been talked about and will be handled. But he's confident and he's ready to go. I wouldn't expect a drop-off whatsoever."

  • On if the Mike Nolan era still has fingerprints on this: "Absolutely. This club was built around a philosophy that Scot (McCloughan), Coach Nolan, myself, Tom Gamble ... When we all first got here, the blueprint to building this team hasn't changed. A lot of players came in with this philosophy of building a team like we have, and we've continued that on. No question there's an influence from Coach Nolan being here. There's a lot of good football players left over from that."

  • On the Falcons: "We just have to take care of us. We have to come in focused. We have to be very prepared knowing our assignments so we can execute at game speed without flaw. We have to bring an energy about us like we saw last week and carry that into this week. It's going to be in a tough environment. It's a dome, it's on the road, it's for a trip to the big dance. All those things are factored in. We've just got to play our game."