GREEN BAY—It's a game that didn't need any more hype, but Colin Kaepernick added to its flavor when he detailed confusion in the Packers' defensive huddle during last January's playoff game.
"It got to a point where we could hear (the Packers defenders) arguing while we were in our huddle. 'You're supposed to do this,' or 'You have to do this, then the other.' At that point, our offense was like, it's over. As soon as you start turning on your teammates, you're not going to be productive. You know you have them in the palm of your hands," Kaepernick told a reporter.
On Wednesday, Kaepernick was asked during a phone interview with Packers media if he stood by those comments.
"Yes," he said.
Here we go.
The hype has officially begun. The 49ers are beginning defense of their NFC championship. The Packers are attempting to avoid having lost to the 49ers for the third time in 365 days.
"At that point, our offense was like, it's over. As soon as you start turning on your teammates, you're not going to be productive. You know you have them in the palm of your hands."
Last January, Kaepernick leaped to stardom by rushing for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and throwing for 263 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' 45-31 postseason win over the Packers at Candlestick Park. The 49ers gained 579 yards in that game, a number that became a rallying cry for the Packers defense in the offseason.
Kaepernick and his coach, Jim Harbaugh, conducted a lesson in how to deflect pointed questions with coachspeak and other forms of footballese, during Wednesday's conference calls. The phone waves had a definite big-game feel to them.
What do you remember of that game?
"That we won. That's what we play the game to do," Kaepernick said.
Why did you win that game?
"We had a good game. We had players making plays," Kaepernick added.
They were simple, benign answers, yet, something about them sounded challenging. Maybe it was the way they were said, or maybe it was because of who was saying them. The 49ers, you see, are anything but a benign football team. They are rugged and challenging, a personality they've acquired from their coach.
"Everybody respects tough. Everybody respects hard working. Everybody respects a team guy," Harbaugh said while answering a question about wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The answer may have been more revealing of Harbaugh than it was of Boldin.
There was no question Harbaugh would answer that would risk becoming bulletin board material, yet, everything he said seemed as though it should be tacked to a bulletin board. Mostly, it was because of who was saying it, Harbaugh, the ultimate tough-guy coach.
Do you think running quarterbacks are here to stay?
"Were they not here before? They weren't here before?" Harbaugh said, obviously dodging the question.
His questioner persisted.
"I've always seen running, athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. Do I know what's going to be here to stay? No, I don't have a crystal ball. We're not on the same wave length," Harbaugh said.
How about his quarterback? What does he think about talk of defenses making sure they hit him hard and often?
"I wear a helmet and shoulder pads like everybody else. It's for a reason," Kaepernick said.
Here we go.