Seven years ago, quarterbacks Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers both were vying to be the top pick in the draft. Rodgers particularly wanted to be taken by the team that held the first overall selection, since he grew up a fan of the 49ers.
But the Niners opted for Smith, sparking a slide that carried Rodgers into the 20s.
Since then, things have worked out pretty well, to say the least, for Rodgers. Despite sitting on the bench behind Brett Favre for three years in Green Bay, Rodgers has become one of the best quarterbacks in the game, winning the Super Bowl MVP award in 2010 and the league MVP trophy in 2011.
Smith was on his way to finally emerging as an elite quarterback, until a concussion opened the door for Colin Kaepernick to supplant Smith. And while Kaepernick’s play has for the most part justified the move, Rodgers thinks Smith got a raw deal.
“He comes in, he’s [got a] 70 percent completion [percentage], he’s [got a] 100-plus quarterback rating,” Rodgers recently told NFL Network, via Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Last year, he’s like barely over one percent interception percentage. He’s a great quarterback, he just needs to go somewhere he gets appreciated for the skills he has and hopefully he gets a chance next year.”
It’s likely that Smith will be leaving, unless Kaepernick comes apart in the postseason. But the question is whether Smith’s better-late-than-never performances are a product of the tutelage of coach Jim Harbaugh. If so, it may be hard to duplicate that elsewhere.Meanwhile, with the 49ers and Packers possibly destined for a playoff rematch, Rodgers’ words likely will be used to get Kaepernick appropriately riled up in order to show Rodgers that the better quarterback has emerged with the job.