SANTA CLARA, CA – What if?
What if Jeff Tedford, California's head soccer coach, hadn't sent coaches to Butte College in Oroville, California in 2002 to explore a close ending called Garrett Cross?
At this community college, Cal accidentally stumbled upon Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback who had thrown four touchdown passes to close the end of the Golden Bear recruitment.
"Who is this guy who throws to the tight end we're looking at?"
This is what Burl Toler III – then a Cal recipient and now the team's recipient coach – reminded the Cal coaches when he asked Craig Rigsbee, the then Butte head coach.
"We really like your close end, but we really like your quarterback."
That was what Tedford said to Rigsbee.
The next day Tedford Rodgers offered a scholarship to play in Cal from 2003.
"I'm not a quarterback guru, but he was there at the start of this first season. I remember thinking," Man, I've never seen anyone throw the ball like this, "Justin Wilcox, the current head coach of Cal was the linebacker coach when Rodgers played there, The Post said, "I played with Akili Smith and Joey Harrington, both first-round draft picks, and I remember watching Aaron throw the ball and thought, "Whoa, it looks different."
After two years with Cal (2003 and 2004), Rodgers, who was a fanatic of the 49ers, was designed by the Packers. You know the rest.
Fifteen years later, Rodgers returns home to the Bay Area to try to beat San Francisco and secure a spot in his second Super Bowl when the Packers and 49ers play in Levi's Stadium in the NFC championship game on Sunday.
What happened if?
"The coaches went there and fell in love with what they saw and nothing has changed since then," Toler told The Post. “As a trainer and for recruiting, I'm just more grateful that they were able to recognize the talent.
"It's crazy to think that a quarterback like Aaron would take the JC route. But he was just a guy who was overlooked and under the radar and had something to prove every year. Fifteen years later, he just got better . "
And, Toler said, Rodger's relentless inner drive and Rand, who has become a legend in Green Bay, has not let up.
If you don't think Rodgers, who was picked 23 places behind Alex Smith, who the 49ers voted first in this 2005 NFL draft, wouldn't at least have a little more pleasure knocking out his former favorite team at The Super Bowl the Packers quarterback is not very good.
"He had a chip on his shoulder because it wasn't drawn in as high as he deserved," said Toler. "But he just went there and learned behind Brett Favre. Now he's mentioned in the same conversation as Brett Favre – and it's not always the case that he sits behind him."
There was a noticeable mood in the Bay Area last week and the 49ers are ready to wallow over the Packers. You can hear it on the sports talk radio and during conversations in bars and near water coolers.
After all, the 49ers sent Green Bay 37-8 in a November meeting where Rodgers made 33 attempts for just 104 yards.
However, any assumptions the 49ers will make with Rodgers on Sunday are ridiculous for those who have known him since college – like Wilcox and Toler.
Rodgers, as he did the day he threw these four touchdown passes to the narrow end that Cal explored, can kill you in one swift move.
“My coach from last year [former defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina] I would call it the wrist strip from hell, "said DeForest Buckner.
"How many people in football history can throw the ball the way it can?" Asked Wilcox. "Then you add the competitiveness, the intellect, the football instinct, and that's why he's in conversation as the best person who ever played the position."
Could he have imagined that Rodgers is what he grew up to be from Juco to Cal?
"I think it is not surprising when I look back and remember his talent and character traits," said Wilcox. “But I'm not sure if anyone was sitting there at the moment and said, 'Hey, this guy is going to win an MVP and a Super Bowl and have a Hall of Fame career. & # 39; When they say that, I'm not sure they are telling you the truth. & # 39; & # 39;
Here's a truth about Rodgers, whose packers are an outsider against the 49ers: He probably won't be a "what if?" – Leave questions in the field on Sunday.
For this reason, it poses a great danger to the team that overlooked it 15 years ago.