Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers-Packers: Aaron Rodgers seems to have no ill will left over 49ers snub, used play invented on Thursday in comeback win

Sep 26, 2021 at 10:36 PM--

Aaron Rodgers was visibly overjoyed Sunday night after leading the Green Bay Packers to a last-second 30-28 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Levi's Stadium -- a game that saw him at use a play during the game-winning drive that he helped invent just three days earlier. But it seemed afterwards like his happiness stemmed simply from leading the Packers to an improbable win and not from any lingering motivation against the 49ers for their decision to pass him up in the 2005 NFL Draft.

The 49ers had the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft but used it to select Alex Smith instead of Rodgers, who fell in the Packers' lap at pick 24 overall. Rodgers, who grew up in Chico, California and played his college ball at Cal-Berkeley, was asked after the draft if he was disappointed over the 49ers' decision not to select him -- a question to which he gave a now-famous response.

"Not as disappointed as the 49ers will be that they didn't draft me," Rodgers said.

Rodgers has since put together a Hall of Fame career that has probably made every team that passed on him live with regret. His history with the 49ers has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, ranging from the low points he experienced when the 49ers beat the Packers twice in 2019 (one of which sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl) to Sunday night's game that saw him drive the Packers downfield for a game-winning field goal with no time outs and 37 seconds to play. The subject of whether or not his draft history made the win sweeter came up for Rodgers after Sunday night's game, and he gave an answer that was more reflective of the happy times he had at Cal instead of what happened on draft night.

"I would say earlier in my career there was maybe a different motivation that involved April 23rd, 2005," Rodgers said. "That kind of adjusted over the years to just a love for this area, a lot of respect and appreciation for my time here... I love the area, still have a lot of friends in the area. It's always fun coming back. Hadn't been fun two of the previous three, but this one's pretty sweet."

Rodgers also spoke in detail about the game-winning drive, which as previously mentioned included a play he tweaked in practice on Thursday afternoon. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur suggested on the sideline before the drive that the Packers start off with that play, which turned out to be a 25-yard completion to wide receiver Davante Adams. The play was the only one Rodgers didn't call himself during the drive.

"I do the two-minute and I like to adjust some routes from time to time to get a look at what it feels like against our defense," Rodgers said. "So I just adjusted one of the routes (in practice), and we all liked it. Matty suggested it right before we went out there. 'What do you think about this play?' I said, 'I like that. I think that would be pretty good.'"

Rodgers' joy over the drive and that play certainly wasn't shared by 49ers linebacker Fred Warner, who almost got his hand on the pass, as seen in the video above. While Rodgers will be enjoying a happy flight back to Green Bay, Warner will be asking 'What if?' in the days ahead.

"That one stings probably the most, knowing I was that close," Warner said after the game. "I could have sealed the game on that one play. I look at myself and see how I could have played that better. There were a few plays I wanted back in that game, and that was for sure one of them. I'm going to take a hard look at it and see how I can get better because I've got to be better for this team."
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