We’re over a decade removed from the 2005 NFL Draft, but the debate about what could have been between Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers will probably never end for San Francisco 49ers fans. Recently, Aaron Rodgers again got a chance to discuss the situation. He was on the Bill Simmons HBO show Any Given Sunday, and brought up the topic.
There has been plenty of discussion about Rodgers and cockiness. One story suggested that Nolan thought Rodgers displayed a little too much attitude, while Smith was more “cerebral,” and not going to be as confrontational. Rodgers did not specifically address that, but he did offer up a story he heard at one point:
“The story I heard, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, was that Mike Nolan said when he saw Alex open the car door for his mom, he knew that was his quarterback,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was at lunch with [the 49ers]. My mom wasn’t there. My dad wasn’t there. I laugh at stories like that because that has nothing to do with being a quarterback.”
Who knows what stories are completely accurate at this point, over a decade later. I would not be surprised if something like that was true, but who really knows. Mike Nolan did discuss the decision back in April, shortly before this year’s draft.
"The other thing as Alex at the time was a good kid -- a very good person, a safe choice, always trying to please. 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."
"Basically, we thought in the long term that Alex Smith would be the better choice than Aaron," Nolan said. "It was one of those, maybe, paralysis by analysis. We had so much time to think about it. 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."
And so the debate will continue on, with no real end in sight. Rodgers is the better quarterback, but we’ll never know how he would have done in San Francisco or how Smith would have done in Green Bay. But that won’t stop the debate!
Fooch’s update: HBO released some video of the segment.