What Could Have Been with Aaron Rodgers?


A little more than ten years ago, the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers were at a crossroads, albeit for different reasons.

The Niners entered the 2005 NFL Draft having suffered one of their worst seasons in franchise history. They were an abysmal 2-14 and were terrible at the quarterback position. Luckily, that terrible season earned them the number one pick, and as a huge Niners and Cal Bears fan, I was chomping at the bit for the Niners to select Cal star, Aaron Rodgers. The days of starting Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey would be over.

The Packers on the other hand, were a perennial playoff team with their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Brett Favre. Although Favre would turn 36 in the 2005 season, the plan was never to draft a successor. Favre was an ironman and was amidst a consecutive start record that would last nineteen years.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Of course, the Niners famously passed on Rodgers after selecting Utah quarterback Alex Smith, and Rodgers fell into the lap of the Packers with the 24th pick. The rest as they say, is history. And that history is still being written as we speak. Any my tears are still flowing, too.

Rodgers, having grown up in Chico, California, had been a huge Niners fan himself. During his youth was the golden age of the Niners franchise.

“I dreamt about being the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers,” recalled Rodgers, back in the preseason of 2011. “I used to draw little plays on note cards and dream I was Joe Montana throwing passes in the backyard with dad.” Just the previous season before, Rodgers had won his first Super Bowl in just his third full season as the starting QB. Ugh.

Had the Niners selected Rodgers over Smith, there was no guarantee that he would have been successful with the Niners. To be fair to Smith, he endured changing offensive schemes year in and year out, and never got any continuity until the arrival of Jim Harbaugh as coach.

But…I would also argue that had Rodgers been a 49er, he would have been much more successful and there wouldn’t have been the turnover in coaching like it was with Smith. Quarterbacks make or break franchises, and the same goes with management and coaching. If your quarterback fails, most likely the team fails, and turnover follows.

Simply put, Rodgers was the more NFL ready QB. He had the better arm to throw deep and accurately, and he has always had a confidence and swagger to him. Watching Smith dink and dunk his way to two- five yard passes only added salt to my wounds as a Niner fan. And the worst part was, Smith was very good at throwing the football into the ground.

More from San Francisco 49ers

The one big knock coming out of Cal for Rodgers was his delivery and throwing motion. Plenty have pointed at this as a very good reason why Rodgers would have failed with the Niners. Except that the coach who had helped Rodgers out of his college throwing motion was none other than Green Bay head coach, Mike McCarthy, who during the 2005 season, was the Niners offensive coordinator. Funny how that worked out.

Going into the 2015 NFL season, Rodgers is the odds on favorite to be the MVP and his Packers are considered one of the favorites for the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the 49ers endured arguably the worst offseason in NFL history and quarterback Colin Kaepernick is under enormous pressure to recapture his magic from three seasons ago. The what ifs in sports can never be solved conclusively, but passing on Rodgers still hurts a whole decade later.

Next: Can the 49ers Replace Aldon Smith?