In 2005, the San Francisco 49ers selected Alex Smith with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.
That didn’t necessarily come back to haunt San Francisco in the same way infamous busts like JaMarcus Russell have managed to hobble other franchises, but if they could do it all again, it’s pretty safe to assume they’d opt for the quarterback who was selected by the Packers with the 24th pick in the first round: Aaron Rodgers.
Plenty of people predicted Rodgers would be the first QB (and, for that matter, the first player) to have his name called when the draft kicked off in New York City that year.
However, the Cal product (one of only six players who were invited to attend the draft in person) was forced to toil in the green room for an uncomfortably long period of time until Green Bay finally brought the waiting game to an end.
It may be a bit of a stretch to say Rodgers was snubbed at the NFL Draft that year.
It’s easy to argue that’s the case with close to 20 years of hindsight at our disposal, but Smith was just as highly touted as Rodgers was heading into things, and the fact that most of the teams picking after San Francisco needed to address weaknesses at other positions means Smith likely would’ve endured a similar slide if Rodgers had gone first.
With that said, the man who led the Packers to a win in Super Bowl XLV certainly felt he was disrespected based on the message he sent to the franchise that passed on the chance to scoop him up after he was taken off of the board.
On this day in 2005, Aaron Rodgers was a little upset the @49ers didn't select him in the @NFLDraft and gave @DennisKPIX a classic sound bite. pic.twitter.com/gxY6oCexI1
— CBS News Bay Area (@KPIXtv) April 23, 2019
As I alluded to above, Rodgers was able to live up to that promise.
Smith was a solid QB but one who spent the bulk of his seven seasons with the 49ers fending off various competitors for the starting role.
Rodgers, on the other hand, has won the regular season MVP award four times, secured the same honor in the aforementioned Super Bowl, and been selected to the Pro Bowl on ten occasions en route to ensuring he’ll be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after he hangs up his cleats.
However, the 49ers have still been able to get the last laugh on one particular front.
Aaron Rodgers needs to beat the 49ers in the playoffs to truly get revenge on the team for passing over him in the NFL Draft
You have to imagine Rodgers has headed into every game he’s played against the 49ers with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but his longtime foe has managed to get the upper hand the majority of the time.
As of the end of the 2022-23 season, Rodgers has posted a 6-7 record in games where he’s faced off against San Francisco. However, a few of those losses have mattered much more than the wins he’s managed to rack up in the regular season.
Rodgers has appeared in the playoffs in nine of the 15 NFL seasons he’s played, and the 49ers have been responsible for bringing his season to an end on four of those occasions (back-to-back postseason losses in 2012 and 2013, another in the NFC Championship Game in 2020, and most recently in the Divisional Round in 2020).
The fact that Rodgers is now on the Jets means the noted astrology buff will need plenty of stars and planets to align if he wants to get the last laugh; the only way he’ll be facing off against the 49ers in the postseason as a member of an AFC team is if New York ends up meeting San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
However, you can be well assured he’ll have even more motivation than he already does to walk away with the victory if that ends up being the case.