Aaron Rodgers Rumors: 49ers Were QB's 'Top Choice' If He Left Packers in Offseason

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 26, 2021

Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Sixteen years ago, the San Francisco 49ers passed on hometown kid Aaron Rodgers to take Alex Smith with the top pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

Both Rodgers and the 49ers hoped to rectify that mistake this offseason.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported San Francisco was Rodgers' "top choice" as a trade destination when he asked to leave the Green Bay Packers. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan reached out to Packers coach Matt LaFleur but was told in no uncertain terms that Rodgers was unavailable.

We all know the protracted story that played out from there. The 49ers quickly adjusted plans, pushing all their chips to the middle of the table and betting on Trey Lance becoming their quarterback of the future.

The Packers and Rodgers played chicken all offseason, with rumors of retirement and dalliances with hosting Jeopardy providing the summer's juiciest NFL story. Rodgers ultimately reported to Packers camp after receiving several concessions from the team that give him more freedom over his future.

The 49ers' pursuit of Rodgers seemingly strained the relationship between LaFleur and Shanahan, who were close friends in coaching circles. LaFleur denied any rift still exists in a meeting with reporters Wednesday.

"Kyle's a great friend of mine," LaFleur told reporters. "Absolutely, I hold no ill will toward him."

"I understand, he's trying to do whatever he thinks he needs to do for his football team," LaFleur added. "He's got a responsibility to everybody in that organization, and if there's an opportunity, I don't hold that against him. So, yeah, that will have no effect on our relationship."