The game's turning point occurred with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Down 21-24, Kaepernick's squad was 9 yards from the end zone. Although Kaepernick had run just twice for a total of 23 yards, the defense remained vigilant. What better time for the stud QB to unleash his speed, the Falcons must have thought.

There was the ball in his hands. He held it out for Gore to take it. The defenders had seen this one before, probably a million times in dark film rooms. They'd seen the trick in slow motion, from multiple angles. Falcons defensive end John Abraham leaped outside to stop Kaepernick. He saw what happened to Clay Matthews. He wouldn't make the same mistake. Wouldn't look like a drunken fool, spinning in circles like that. Kaepernick accelerated toward him ...

But the ball had vanished.

Against the Green Bay Packers earlier this month, Colin Kaepernick showed why he represents the changing faces of the NFL and America.
AP Photo/ Tony Avelar
Against the Green Bay Packers earlier this month, Colin Kaepernick showed why he represents the changing faces of the NFL and America.
Robert Griffin III, the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, is one of the young, talented quarterbacks who will likely battle with Kaepernick for NFL supremacy over the coming years.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Robert Griffin III, the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, is one of the young, talented quarterbacks who will likely battle with Kaepernick for NFL supremacy over the coming years.

Gore had had it the whole time. He sprinted up the middle of the field, through the gap that opened up when Abraham jumped, scoring the game-winning touchdown and sending the 49ers to their first Super Bowl in 18 years.

Kaepernick had, once again, fooled everybody.

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