After the 2005 draft, Aaron Rodgers was none too pleased with the 49ers, the team he loved while growing up in Chico. They passed him over with the No. 1 pick in favor of Alex Smith, sparking a draft-day drop for Rodgers that didn't stop until the Packers snagged him at pick No. 24. Rodgers' reaction after the draft: "(Twenty-one) teams passed on me, and when my time comes to play, I'm going to show those teams they made a mistake," he said on ESPN radio days after the draft. "And if we play the 49ers at their place, I'm going to make sure the entire city of Chico comes down there to watch us beat them."
I got a call from Rodgers this evening after the Packers plane landed in San Francisco. With Smith fighting for his job and the 49ers struggling mightily since 2005, let's just say that Rodgers is more accepting of how things transpired. And let's just say that some Chico residents will be on hand. Here's exactly what the former Cal star had to say:
Q: Welcome back to the Bay Area
A: Thanks. Good to be back. I wish I was on the other side of the bridge. I could see some of my buddies from Berkeley. I feels good to be back in California, definitely.
Q: What kind of Aaron Rodgers contingent should we expect tomorrow at Candlestick?
A: My family. Some of their friends. My extended family's coming. A lot of friends from college. There'll be a lot of my friends and family there.
Q: When's the last time you were at Candlestick as a fan?
A: I've only been to one game there and it was 2004 when Seattle played San Francisco. (49ers lost 42-27).
Q: When I wrote a story on you before the 2005 draft, your mom said she was a 49ers fan going back to the Kezar days. What's her allegiance now?
A: Strictly with the Packers.
Q: Have you ever sat down with Mike McCarthy (the 49ers' offensive coordinator in 2005) and asked him why the 49ers passed on you?
A: You know what? Not really. It's not a big deal for me. I know the organization made a decision. I know coach McCarthy was the offensive coordinator there and could have been my offensive coordinator if the Niners had taken me. I know it's a business. And I know the team was trying to make the best decision they could make. So there's absolutely no ill will with the 49ers or Mike Nolan or anybody.
Q: How closely have you followed the 49ers since 2005?
A: Well, I follow all the teams. You like to be up to date on what everybody's doing. You follow closely different players who maybe were drafted in your draft class or from your school or were from the Pac 10. So I definitely follow different teams and players throughout the season. Obviously, I want to know what the 49ers and Raiders are doing.
Q: One of the players in your draft class was Alex Smith. Have you followed what he's been going through recently?
A: Yeah, I'm aware of what's been going on a little bit just from what I see and hear from friends in Northern California.
Q: Would you want to trade places with him now?
A: I think everything happens for a reason. I was fortunate to end up with the Packers and learn behind Brett. Now my opportunity to be the starter has come, and I couldn't be happier. We have a lot of high-character guys, on the coaching staff and in the locker room. Like I said, everything happens for a reason, and I wouldn't trade it for anything now.
Q: Have you reflected on the fact that a team that picks first overall might have less stability than the one that picks 24th?
A: I've had three offensive coordinators in my four years. They've all been a similar system. ... I'm in a very good situation. There are lot of quality people and players here. I think the transition this year is going to be a fairly small one because there are so many talented guys on both sides of the ball.
Q: Will you have a chance to see friends this weekend?
A: We'll have some time this evening. But there's not a lot of time off. It's the preseason, but I've got a job to do, and that's play tomorrow. I'll be able to see a lot of friends and family after the game. Until then, I'll focus on having a good time tomorrow night and playing well.
Q: How much will you play?
A: I'll play about 30 snaps?
Q: Is that about a half?
A: Well, last week I played 25 and it was a little under a quarter. We made a lot of plays last week.
Q: Whatever became of the Joe Montana t-shirt you wore under you Cal jersey?
A: That's a good question. I believe it's in Chico right now at my parents' house. It's all Reebok now ...
By the way, here's the story I wrote back in 2005 on Rodgers ... Not sure why the Web site didn't credit The Bee ...
-- Matt Barrows