2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Rodgers back in Bay Area with Packers for playoffs

By JANIE McCAULEY - AP Sports Writer
    2013-01-10 16:26

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The anxiety-filled green room and draft day seem so long ago now to Aaron Rodgers.

Still, on this weekend, any lingering feelings of frustration about how far he dropped will be directed right at the team that passed him up with the No. 1 pick nearly eight years ago.

Rodgers brings the high-scoring Green Bay Packers (12-5) to Candlestick Park on Saturday to face No. 2 seed San Francisco (11-4-1) in prime time for a place in the NFC championship game. He'll take the field in the very venue where he became a regular fan as a boy rooting for Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young.

Rodgers, who appeared in a preseason game at Candlestick in 2008, will play his first meaningful game at the stadium at last, as an eighth-year pro. He will look to avenge a 30-22 season-opening home loss to the 49ers.

``It will be fun. I went to a few baseball games there growing up, and saw a game there when I was in college,'' Rodgers said. ``Stadium's got a lot of tradition. Looks like we're kind of fortunate with the weather right now. Still wonder what that's going to be like.

``But it will be a night game, it will be loud, it will be a great environment and it should be a good show for the fans.''

Rodgers is putting on quite a show, all right.

He returns to Northern California, where he became a college star for California across San Francisco Bay in Berkeley, with a healthy cast of receivers and the swagger of a Super Bowl champion.

When Rodgers dropped to No. 24 in the 2005 draft after Alex Smith went No. 1, he was asked about his disappointment. He so matter-of-factly said, ``not as disappointed as the 49ers will be that they didn't draft me.''

Now, everybody in the Bay Area and beyond will be watching his every move again.

He already upset some friends he couldn't accommodate with tickets. Family first, with everybody else making the 4-hour trek from his hometown of Chico left to fend for themselves.

Most important, of course, is getting Green Bay one step closer to another Super Bowl. Last season's chance at a repeat championship came to a screeching halt at the hands of the Giants in this very round at Lambeau Field.

The Giants came to San Francisco the next week and won the NFC title game, 20-17 in overtime.

Just as the Niners moved on from that heartbreaking loss and used it as a motivational push each day this season, the same goes for Rodgers after being slighted by his beloved San Francisco on draft day.

``It's been a long time since the green room,'' Rodgers said. ``I have a lot of good memories growing up watching Steve Young and Joe Montana on TV and the Super Bowl wins and being a 49ers fan. That was a team I enjoyed watching and dreamt about playing for. I'm eight years removed here, and obviously I'm really happy with the situation I'm in.''

A lot has changed in that time for San Francisco, too.

The QB the 49ers picked ahead of Rodgers - Smith - spent the season's second half on the bench as coach Jim Harbaugh promoted second-year pro Colin Kaepernick. He will make his playoff debut Saturday.

In an odd twist, Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and adopted before moving to California at age 4. Yes, he began as a toddler Cheesehead, then changed allegiances ``when I got drafted,'' Kaepernick said.

He has never met Rodgers. He still knows plenty.

Even San Francisco's opportunistic, ball-hawking defense realizes just how hard it will be to rattle Rodgers or get him off his game. He hasn't thrown an interception in five straight games and 177 passes. His receiving corps is intact again at last, each of the big four of Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones capable of game-breaking catches and career performances.

Jennings has 19 receptions for 226 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games.

The 49ers will need big performances from Aldon Smith and Justin Smith, the defensive pass-rushing menace expected back after he missed the final two regular-season games with a partially torn left triceps. Not to mention their talented seconardy.

Beating some of the NFL's top quarterbacks hasn't proven too much for San Francisco so far. Aside from the win against Rodgers in the opener, the Niners beat Drew Brees in New Orleans and shocked Tom Brady in New England.

``We've played some of the best quarterbacks this year and have done well,'' linebacker Patrick Willis said. ``This Saturday is going to call for our best. We can't afford to not play our best football, play our best defense. There's no tomorrow, there's no next week.''

Harbaugh has been impressed just how well Kaepernick seems to understand the magnitude of this task, while also remaining unfazed by the added hype and attention.

``It's a bit savant-like the way he's handling it so far this week,'' Harbaugh said. ``So, that's really encouraging.''

Poll the players and coaches around the 49ers and everybody believes Kaepernick is perfectly ready for his biggest game yet.

``I don't think we're going to see any big eyes,'' offensive coordinator Greg Roman said.

This was the matchup everybody expected in last year's NFC championship game until New York came along and spoiled both teams' plans.

Back in September, San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks said the win at Green Bay might be an ``eye opener'' and ``maybe we'll see them again in the NFC championship.''

He was only one week off.

Now, San Francisco wants to make sure it is still standing next week.

``We still feel we're just as good as we were last year,'' Willis said. ``Hopefully this is a new season.''

Same sentiments are coming from the Green Bay side. The Packers won three road games on the way to their championship two years ago, so why not keep a good thing going away from Lambeau Field?

And coach Mike McCarthy is counting on Green Bay being better equipped to pound the ball in the run game.

``We have to be,'' the coach said, ``it's the playoffs.''

---

AP National Writer Nancy Armour in Green Bay, Wis., contributed to this story.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Branden OliverSep 22 09:14a

With injuries to both RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and Danny Woodhead (ankle/leg), RB Branden Oliver could see more playing time going forward with the San Diego Chargers.

Eddie LacySep 22 09:13a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy had five of 11 carries Sunday, Sept. 21, go for no gain or negative yardage. Lacy acknowledged defenses may know how to contain [ More ]

Jonathan GoodwinSep 22 06:42a

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (leg) left the game Sunday, Sept. 21 after suffering a left leg injury. He was carted off the field and was later seen [ More ]

Tyvon BranchSep 22 06:32a

Oakland Raiders SS Tyvon Branch (foot) sustained a fractured foot during his team's 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 21. His status for future weeks has not been determined.

Rod StreaterSep 22 06:13a

Oakland Raiders WR Rod Streater (foot) suffered a fractured foot during his team's 16-9 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday, Sept. 21. Streater was wearing a walking boot [ More ]

Deonte ThompsonSep 22 05:53a

The Baltimore Ravens waived WR Deonte Thompson on Saturday, Sept. 20 in order to promote RB Fitzgerald Toussaint from the practice squad, but Thompson could stick with the team [ More ]

Marvin JonesSep 21 11:53p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (foot) is expected to be healthy enough to return in Week 5 after the team's bye.

Rex BurkheadSep 21 11:53p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee) and LB Sean Porter (hamstring) are likely to be healthy enough to return after the team's bye in Week 4, head coach Marvin Lewis said Sunday, Sept. 21.

Ike TaylorSep 21 10:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Ike Taylor (arm) suffered an apparent right arm injury in the third quarter of the Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers. He was placed in [ More ]

Adrian PetersonSep 21 10:12p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson wants his representation to accelerate his trial date for child-abuse charges, with the goal of getting it set for 2014, according to a source [ More ]

Keenan AllenSep 21 09:42p

San Diego Chargers WR Keenan Allen (groin) was able to play in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, but he managed just two catches for 17 yards and he [ More ]

Jordan CameronSep 21 09:42p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) was able to play in the Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens. He was limited to just one target, and that was good for a 43-yard reception.

Dez BryantSep 21 09:42p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder) was able to start in Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, posting team highs with six catches, 89 yards, seven targets and a touchdown.

Antonio GatesSep 21 09:42p

San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hamstring) was able to play in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills, but he was limited to just one reception for eight yards.

Toby GerhartSep 21 08:32p

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (ankle) was able to play in the Week 3 game against the Indianapolis Colts. Gerhart posted 32 rushing yards on nine runs, and he [ More ]

Cecil Shorts IIISep 21 08:32p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts III (hamstring) was able to play in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. He had five receptions for 35 yards with a touchdown, and [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsSep 21 08:32p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs) was able to play in Week 3 against the San Diego Chargers, but he was limited to just two receptions and 19 yards. He was targeted eight times.

A.J. GreenSep 21 08:12p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) was able to start in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, and he finished with six receptions for 102 yards and he was targeted a team-high nine times.

Andre EllingtonSep 21 08:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) carried 18 times for 62 yards in the Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers, and he added three receptions for 13 yards.

Nate FreeseSep 21 08:02p

Detroit Lions PK Nate Freese misfired on a 41-yard field goal attempt in the Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers, and he is 0-for-4 from beyond 40 [ More ]

Tre BostonSep 21 07:52p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Jerricho Cotchery, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Andrew Norwell, RB DeAngelo Williams, OT Garry Williams, DL Greg Hardy, LB Jason Williams, QB Joe Webb, SS Tre Boston inactive for Week 3.

DeAngelo WilliamsSep 21 07:42p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh) is inactive for the Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

B.W. WebbSep 21 07:42p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared CB B.W. Webb, DT Daniel McCullers, RB Dri Archer, QB Landry Jones, WR Martavis Bryant, OG Ramon Foster, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 3.

L. TaliaferroSep 21 07:23p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro carried a game-high 18 times for 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. He was subbing for the injured RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).

Chris WilliamsSep 21 07:12p

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee), SS Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) and OG Chris Williams (back) were each unable to return after leaving the Week 3 [ More ]

Nick NovakSep 21 07:12p

San Diego Chargers PK Nick Novak made a pair of field goals and he had two extra points in the Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. He has [ More ]

Danny WoodheadSep 21 06:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Danny Woodhead (ankle, leg) suffered a severe high ankle sprain and fractured fibula in the Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. A source said [ More ]

Dennis PittaSep 21 06:42p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) suffered a dislocated hip in the Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns. He will have tests Monday, Sept. 22, to check for a possible fracture.

T Y HiltonSep 21 06:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) left the Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to an ankle injury. Head coach Chuck Pagano said Sunday, Sept. 21, that [ More ]

Jake LockerSep 21 06:23p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker remains the starting quarterback, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt said Sunday, Sept. 21, that he never considered benching Locker despite a lopsided loss in [ More ]

Matt CasselSep 21 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassel (foot) has several fractured bones in his foot, head coach Mike Zimmer said Sunday, Sept. 21, after the Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group