Wisconsin-California quarterbacking connections on display Saturday
Monday, January 07, 2013 3:03 PM
This weekend's NFC playoff match-up between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers will include several strange quarterbacking connections.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers grew up in California as a San Francisco 49ers fan. Thought to have a chance of being the first overall pick coming out of Cal in the 2005 NFL draft, Rodgers slipped all the way to the Packers with the 24th pick when the 49ers passed on Rodgers and took Alex Smith instead with the first overall pick. Smith also grew up in California.
After playing several seasons as the 49ers starting quarterback, Smith now serves as a back-up to Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was born in Wisconsin and moved to California at the age of four. As a kid, he dreamed of playing for both the 49ers and the Packers. His dream came true earlier this season when he replaced an injured Smith and kept the job with his strong performance.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was part of the 49ers draft team that took Smith ahead of Rodgers back in 2005 when he was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers. McCarthy had worked previously as the 49ers quarterback coach and he had been Brett Favre's quarterback coach in Green Bay back in 1999.
Rodgers was not heavily recruited out of high school and ended up playing at a junior college before transferring to Cal. Kaepernick was also not so heavily recruited out of high school and was thought to have a better chance as a baseball player. Smith was a big recruit and chose Utah over Michigan State where he the led the Utes to a 21-1 record as their starting quarterback, including a victory over Cal and Rodgers in his first start. Rodgers had a better game statistically but Smith and the Utes came out on top.
All three quarterbacks are considered among the smartest players in the NFL with Wonderlic Intelligence Test scores between 35 and 40.