San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws the ball during organized team activities at the San Francisco 49ers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers enabled the fine folks of Green Bay move on from Brett Favre (no, they'll never forget No. 4).
But for much of his career, 49ers QB Alex Smith has left the San Francisco faithful pining for Jeff Garcia (not to mention Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young).
However, Rodgers stook up for Smith, who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2005 (23 spots in front of the 2011 MVP) by the team the Northern California native hoped to play for, and bristled this week at the notion that Smith is merely a "game manager."
"I think that term is a condescending term for quarterbacks," Rodgers said.
"I don't think he's a game manager. I think he's a guy who takes care of the football and makes a lot of plays. I don't think he got the respect that he deserves. I've been friends with him since we were 21 and I've followed his career.
"I definitely pull for him and enjoy watching him play."
That notion will go out the window Sunday when the Packers and 49ers meet in a potential NFC Championship Game preview at Lambeau Field. And perhaps we'll see if Smith, whose career-best for TD passes is 18 (Rodgers had 45 last season), is able to continue blossoming now that he'll be operating the same offensive system in consecutive seasons for the first time in his NFL career.
By Nate Davis