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Alex Smith Over Aaron Rodgers: 49ers Liked Safe Pick

Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers

We get to revisit this every year as the draft approaches. How the San Francisco 49ers chose Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft.

Rodgers, of course, would tumble all the way to the Packers at No. 24.

And while Smith is a safe, serviceable quarterback, Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer.

Bad 49ers.

Mike Nolan, the 49ers coach at the time, appeared on NFL Network Tuesday morning to rehash the team’s reasoning for choosing Smith over Rodgers.

He had plenty of them, too.

“It was one of those, maybe, paralysis by analysis. We had so much time to think about it,” Nolan said.

“We put a lot of stock in changing Aaron’s throwing style. We also got caught up a little bit in that Alex was so mobile. That was a good thing. But in the end, we felt Alex would be the better long-time guy. Obviously, we were wrong in that thought process.”


This next one is even more interesting.

“The other thing as Alex at the time was a good kid – a very good person, a safe choice, always trying to please,” Nolan said. “On the other hand, Aaron was very cocky, very confident, arrogant. So you can say, ‘Why didn’t you take him to begin with?’ Because that’s really what your best quarterbacks look like. They aren’t very pleasing. They aren’t very safe.

“And as time has showed, that’s really how Alex plays. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s very secure with the ball. And on the other hand, Aaron is a slinger. He’s all over the place and makes great, big plays. Obviously, he’ll be a Hall of Fame player one day.”

Nolan ultimately admitted the 49ers should have chosen Rodgers.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

We’re pretty happy they went with the safe pick.


Joseph Bonham

Joseph is a fiction writer when he isn't doing this. In his spare time he likes to do manly things like drink beer and procreate.



  1. vj April 26, 2016

    Johnny Manziel was pretty cocky too, so buyer beware. The QB position still remains the toughest position to evaluate. Add to that, some players may have had decent or better careers had they landed in the right spot and situation. Would Aaron Rodgers be the same player he is today w/o sitting behind another HOF’er? No one can really say…

  2. jtmax April 26, 2016

    Rodgers was also a “good kid”. He had good grades, high IQ and never got in trouble. He was just very confident and aggressive and that can be confused with Cocky. You need aggressiveness in football. AJ Hawk’s main problem is the same as smith. Pansies.
    Manziel was always trouble, an alky and not very bright. Rodgers is the personality you want. A clean, responsible character but confident and aggressive and played against in Pac 10 filled with future NFL HOF defensive players like Troy Palomalu. Smith played in the WAC when they were extremely weak playing at division II level. You have to take everything into account. The great NFL quarterbacks have all the right stuff if you take everything into account. The niners did not take competition into account and that is a big problem. By the same token Wentz could be the next Smith and Goff the next Rodgers. My main concern with Wentz would be competition. Competition is pretty darn important.

  3. RUPackFan April 26, 2016

    “[Alex is] very secure with the ball. And on the other hand, Aaron is a slinger. He’s all over the place…” Meanwhile, by far the best TD-INT ratio of all time

    1. PF4L April 27, 2016

      I was wondering if someone caught that, Nice.

      I think there’s a reason why Nolan’s had 16 different employers.

    2. Deepsky April 27, 2016

      Rodgers had several issues early on. After the Packers drafted him he was throwing a lot of picks in the preseason and I was wondering if the Packers made a mistake. He got into a game in 2005 against the Ravens and threw a pick. You have to give McCarthy credit for fixing his mechanics and allowing him time to watch Favre and learn how NOT to throw picks.

      If Rodgers went to a team that needed him immediately, he never would have been as good.

  4. Kato April 27, 2016

    I lol’d at the notion that Rodgers is a “slinger.”

    I do think it suited Rodgers well to sit on the bench for a couple years, especially given the shitstorm the packers receivers were at the time. Driver and that was about it. And they let two pro bowl guards leave too.

  5. Deepsky April 27, 2016

    Alex Smith had a better QB rating last year than Aaron Rodgers.

    1. Kozak April 27, 2016

      LOL. I guess Nolan made the right choice.
      Ignore the other 9 years….

    2. jtmax April 27, 2016

      Are you saying that proves Smith is a better QB? Or do you just say something pointless for no reason?
      I guess you didn’t see the two winning/tying TD’s Rodgers threw against Lions and Cards over 50 yards with no time left then.
      Also saying that Rodgers would have failed if he were to start right away is a bunch of hypothetical BS coming out of your behind. That’s alot of reaching and imagination.
      People think TT is a genius for picking Rodgers but it’s more like every body else like you are clueless. If you even watched the WAC back then, they were playing division II football.