Aaron Rodgers will play in his fourth NFC championship game as a starter when the Packers meet the 49ers in the title game on Sunday. This might be the most personal Super Bowl shot for Rodgers.
Rodgers is a Chico, Calif., native who grew up rooting for the 49ers, and several of the key narratives about his NFL career with Green Bay have involved San Francisco.
Those moments come full circle when the Rodgers-led Packers play the 49ers in the NFC championship for the first time.
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49ers snubbed Rodgers in 2005 NFL Draft
Rodgers could have been the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, but San Francisco chose Utah’s Alex Smith, instead.
That led to a long wait in the green room for Rodgers, who was the second quarterback taken with the No. 24 pick. Washington took Jason Campbell with the No. 25 pick to round out the first-round quarterbacks.
Rodgers took that draft snub as a slight. When asked about whether he was disappointed about that the 49ers didn’t draft him, Rodgers provided a response that is sure to get replayed a few times Sunday.
“Not as disappointed as the 49ers will be that they didn’t draft me.”
Rodgers’ feud with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy involved 49ers
Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator of the 49ers in 2005, and he became the Packers coach in 2006. But Rodgers never forgot about San Francisco’s decision to draft Smith, a decision to which McCarthy contributed, even after Smith moved on to play for the Chiefs.
Take this example from Business Insider ahead of the 2015 season.
“We play Kansas City in Week 3,” McCarthy said. “We won’t make it through the first half of that week without him saying something. I’m certain.”
Rodgers and McCarthy had a deteriorating relationship at that point, and McCarthy was fired during the 2018 season. He is now the coach of the Cowboys.
Rodgers has a losing record against 49ers
Including two postseason matchups, Rodgers has a 4-5 record against San Francisco.
Two of those games included Smith when he played for San Francisco. Green Bay won the first meeting with Rodgers as its starter 30-24 on Nov. 22, 2009 at Lambeau Field, but Smith returned the favor in a 30-22 victory in the same place on Sept. 9, 2012.
Rodgers and the Packers lost to the 49ers in the playoffs in back-to-back years following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, with both defeats coming at the hands of the quarterback-coach combination of Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick. Green Bay lost 45-31 at San Francisco in the 2012-13 divisional and 23-20 at Lambeau Field in the 2013-14 wild-card round.
Rodgers was 0-3 against Harbaugh-coached 49ers teams.
He also is just 1-3 in four career starts at Levi’s Stadium, with his only victory being a 17-3 win on Oct. 4, 2015.
Rodgers’ last visit to the venue in Santa Clara, Calif., did not go well.
49ers routed Rodgers, Packers in Week 12
San Francisco and Green Bay met on Nov. 24 in a much-anticipated “Sunday Night Football” matchup. The 49ers were 9-1, and the Packers were 8-2.
It did not go well for Green Bay. San Francisco jumped out to a 23-0 halftime lead in a 37-8 blowout. Rodgers finished 20-of-33 passing for 104 yards and a TD, the second-lowest yardage total of his career in a start he didn’t leave because of injury.
The good news for Rodgers? Green Bay has not lost since. The Packers won five straight regular-season games to close 2019, and Rodgers led them to a 28-23 victory against the Seahawks in the NFC divisional playoff round.
Brett Favre had more success against 49ers
Everything Rodgers does in Green Bay gets compared to his predecessor Brett Favre, who was 11-1 against the 49ers while with the Packers (and 12-2 against them overall).
Favre tormented San Francisco with a 4-1 record in the postseason; his only loss came on Steve Young’s game-winning TD pass to Terrell Owens in the 30-27 thriller in the 1998-99 NFC wild-card game.
The Packers reached the Super Bowl twice with Favre, and they beat the 49ers in both of those playoff runs.
Rodgers can match Favre by beating 49ers
Favre played in the NFC championship game four times in Green Bay, and he had a 2-2 record in those games. One of those victories was a 23-10 win against San Francisco in the 1997-98 NFC championship game. That is the only conference championship meeting between the franchises.
Rodgers is 1-2 in NFC championship games, and including Sunday’s matchup, all four have been on the road. A victory against San Francisco would put Rodgers back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010-11, and it would give him a shot at what Favre never won — a second Super Bowl ring.
It’s fitting that Rodgers has to go through San Francisco to do it.