After outplaying league MVP Aaron Rodgers and shattering the Green Bay Packers in his first NFL playoff game, after setting a league record and making Charles Woodson look old and slow, Colin Kaepernick had one more task this night.
Call his mom, who was too sick to make the game.
Ten months later, Teresa Kaepernick still gets teary-eyed at the memory. "I can't believe that he called me," she said recently from the family's home in Modesto. "It was such a big day for him, and he thought to call me."
Kaepernick's big day -- he rushed for 181 yards, passed for 263 and accounted for four touchdowns in a 45-31 divisional-playoff victory Jan. 12 -- ranks No. 9 in our countdown of the 10 Most Unforgettable Moments in the 49ers' history at Candlestick Park.
The day, though, didn't start well. On the game's fourth play from scrimmage, Kaepernick threw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a Green Bay touchdown.
Teresa, watching on the couch with the flu, shouted in horror. Rick Kaepernick, in the stadium with the rest of the family, turned his head.
"You can't make that throw across your body going that way," Kaepernick's father said to a seatmate.
The mistake played into the perceptions of many football pundits. Kaepernick, a second-year player from Nevada with only seven NFL starts to his credit, wasn't ready for the size of this stage. Especially with his counterpart being Rodgers, the league's reigning MVP and top-rated passer.
"Oh, yeah, they were saying it," Teresa said, recalling the telecast. "There was this little assumption that this kid has no clue what he is getting into."
Turns out the Packers had no clue what they were getting into with this kid.
"The great thing about Colin is he's never going to quit," his dad said. "The bad thing about Colin is he's never going to quit."
With the 49ers trailing 7-0 on his mistake, Kaepernick walked the sideline assuring his teammates that there was no cause for concern. "We'll make plays," he promised.
It took him less than four minutes to make good. Taking over at his own 20 after the interception, he marched the team 80 yards to the end zone, converting on third down three times along the way. The last time, on third-and-8, he ran 20 yards for a touchdown, marking the occasion with his first postseason Kaepernicking celebration.
Thus began an intense back-and-forth duel. The Packers regained the lead at 14-7. The 49ers tied the score, then went ahead 21-14. The Packers answered to make it 21-all. The 49ers led 24-21 at halftime. The Packers tied it at 24-24.
And that's when Kaepernick changed everything -- the game, his career, the NFL.
"People misunderstand Colin's feet because of his strides," Rick Kaepernick said. "Is he quick? No. Is he fast? If you race him for 10 yards you're going to beat him. If you race him for 40, it's going to be close. If you race him for 100 yards you're going to lose."
The Packers raced him for 56 yards. They lost.
On second-and-4 from his own 44, with 7:16 left in the third quarter of a tied game, Kaepernick faked an inside handoff to LaMichael James, then broke around right end, untouched and into the open. Woodson, the future Hall of Famer, had an angle on him, but it was gone in a flash. Kaepernick kissed his right biceps again.
It was 31-24, then 38-24, then 45-24.
Afterward, the tattooed quarterback fueled his legend in an exchange with reporters. When asked if he was more of passer or a runner, Kaepernick coolly responded, "I don't want to be categorized."
His parents applauded the answer.
"It annoys him to always have people wanting to call him a running quarterback," Teresa Kaepernick said. "His job is to lead the offense, to move the chains and that's just what he is doing."
He did that and more against the Packers. Then he called his mom.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.
In honor of the 49ers' final season at Candlestick Park, we count down their 10 Most Unforgettable Moments there. Stories will run until Dec. 23, the last regular-season game at the place the 49ers have called home since 1971. The 10 Most Unforgettable Moments -- among them a few that 49ers fans can't forget, no matter how hard they try -- were voted on by the sports staff of the Bay Area News Group. You can have your say, too. The ballot is online at mercurynews.com/49ers. Cast your vote. The fans' top 10 will be revealed before the final game.