AUSTIN, Texas —
"Lately, we've faced a lot of these young guys who have great legs," Nolan said. "Everybody faces the same problems when facing those guys. You have to be very disciplined in what you do because it adds a player to the scheme that you're trying to stop. Usually, the quarterback takes the ball and gives it to somebody. That's a guy you don't have to account for. But, if all of a sudden he's got the option to keep the ball ... now you're in trouble."
Kaepernick has been compared to Carolina's Cam Newton, who had two of his better games against the Falcons.
In the first meeting between the division rivals, Newton passed for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 86 yards and another score. When the teams met again last month, Newton was even better. He put up Kaepernick-like numbers — 287 yards and two touchdowns passing; 116 yards rushing, including a 72-yard TD — in a 30-20 upset of the Falcons, one of only three losses for the NFC's top-seeded team.
Last week, in Atlanta's opening playoff game, another duel-threat quarterback, Seattle's Russell Wilson, gave the Falcons fits. He passed for 385 yards and led the Seahawks in rushing with 60 yards, accounting for three TDs and leading his team back from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The Falcons needed an improbable rally of their own to pull out a 30-28 victory.
"These young guys, they are athletic and they can run," Nolan moaned. "That creates a whole new set of problems."
That said, Nolan has worked wonders masking Atlanta's weaknesses on defense, confusing opponents with a variety of formations, blitzes and stunts. For instance, he might blitz his safeties and drop the linemen into pass coverage — anything to cause the offense some uncertainty.