The Falcons may not know Colin Kaepernick. They've never played him before. But they know his type, and they hope that gives them an edge.
A day after barely beating Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in an NFC divisional playoff game, the Falcons began preparing for Kaepernick and the 49ers. In Sunday's NFC title game, they'll host the player who on Saturday night ran for more yards in a game (181) than any other quarterback in NFL history.
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It turns out that Wilson was just the appetizer, the finger sandwich of fleet-footed QBs.
"He's a much taller player than Russell," Falcons coach Mike Smith said of the 6-4, 230-pound Kaepernick Monday. "On the watch, when he runs, he's probably faster . . . There are some similarities in terms of what they do offensively, but there are a lot of things that are a little bit different."
The Falcons struggled to contain Wilson, who ran for 60 yards and a touchdown, but it might have served as an appropriate warm-up for Kaepernick.
The Falcons have played a number of games this season against speedy, agile, playmaking quarterbacks -- the NFL's new breed of passer -- with varied levels of success.
They faced Robert Griffin III and were able to knock him from the game with a concussion in a 24-17 win over the Redskins. They faced Cam Newton twice, splitting two games with the Panthers. And they faced Wilson.
Smith thinks Kaepernick has more in common with a more familiar foe than the most recent one. "He's probably between Russell and Cam," he said. "Probably closer to Cam in terms of the stature."
But being able to compare Kaepernick will not help Atlanta corral him. Although there will be plenty of carry-over in terms of stressing the importance of discipline in the secondary, his added dimension could prevent the Falcons from using their entire defensive playbook.
"You've got to have vision on defense and you can't match up and play match coverages or man-to-man because when he gets into the secondary, he's a guy that can go the distance," Smith said. "He outran a number of fast players in the ballgame on Saturday night."
The Falcons have a week to figure out how to prevent Kaepernick from doing that to them.
Notes & quotes: Smith said DE John Abraham "re-tweaked" his ankle Sunday but should be ready for the NFC Championship Game. "We anticipate John will be back out practicing with us before the end of the week," Smith said . . . 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said K Billy Cundiff will remain on the roster but probably won't play. "David [Akers] is our kicker," he said . . . Harbaugh recounted the exciting day for his parents Saturday. Their two sons won exciting playoff games (Jim's brother, John, coaches the Ravens) and their son-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, beat Minnesota. "My parents are in their 70s," Jim Harbaugh said. "That's a lot of excitement. That's a lot of action. That's like going back-to-back-to-back, like three '24' episodes in a row. It's not easy."