10 years after being 49ers' top pick, Smith faces Rodgers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith showed little interest this week in pondering how their careers would have unfolded had the San Francisco 49ers selected Rodgers, rather than Smith, with the first overall selection in the 2005 draft.
''I don't really play those what-if games,'' Rodgers said. ''He went to San Fran, had a lot of different coordinators there, and I came here. . I'm happy where I'm at.''
The quarterbacks competed 10 years ago to be selected first at their position, and they will clash again Monday when their teams meet in Green Bay.
Now a two-time MVP with a Super Bowl ring, Rodgers began his career on the bench as the heir to Packers legend Brett Favre. It's tough to measure just how much those years in waiting helped Rodgers, but Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy - who took over in 2006 - is convinced they did.
''Absolutely,'' McCarthy said. ''I think it would help any quarterback. I've been part of the conversation of, `Do you play the number one draft pick right away or you sit him?' and in my opinion, just from the experiences of being in the NFL, it's not `Do you play the quarterback?' It's really, `Is the team ready for the rookie quarterback?'
''After our first year in '06, we felt that he was ready to go,'' McCarthy added, ''and in '07, when he did get to play, it was clear that he was ready to go, so I think it definitely helped him.''
Rodgers is one of the game's best quarterbacks. Smith, an immediate starter for the 49ers, is closer to the middle of the pack.
Both have faced different circumstances since the 2005 draft. After slipping in the draft, Rodgers had to wait for Favre's departure before the 2008 season to clear a path to playing time. Smith muddled through mostly sub-.500 seasons while playing for six offensive coordinators in eight years.
''Rodgers has a great (story), sitting behind a Hall of Famer for a few years,'' Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ''I know he was upset that he got pushed back in the draft, but it turned out to be the best decision ever. You never know if you threw Aaron Rodgers right in the fire, probably wouldn't have panned out. You never know.''
''Aaron was in a position . to kind of watch everything kind of unfold and see how he was going to do it when he eventually took over,'' Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. ''Alex was actually the guy, and he got to go do it and test the waters right away.''
Chiefs backup quarterback Aaron Murray, a 2014 fifth-round pick out of Georgia, said his own wait has been good for him.
''The defense is so much more complex in the NFL compared to in college,'' Murray said. ''So I think if you're a real student of the game, I think it's good to sit back, learn from some great veterans.''
Smith didn't get that opportunity, but left the guesswork - would things have gone differently for him and Rodgers had San Francisco made a different pick? - for others to discuss.
''There's so many ifs and different things and plausibilities that it's tough to think about,'' Smith said. ''It happened. Guys can talk about what ifs and this and that. Like I said, who knows what would have happened?''
NOTES: Chiefs OL Jeff Allen (knee), T Eric Fisher (ankle), TE Demetrius Harris (foot), LB Josh Mauga (Achilles tendon), T Donald Stephenson (ankle), WR De'Anthony Thomas (calf), RB Charcandrick West (Achilles tendon) and WR Albert Wilson (shoulder) were full participants in practice. . The NFL has fined Broncos LB DeMarcus Ware $17,363 for roughing Smith in Week 2. . Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said S Eric Berry is now the starter in the team's base defense.
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