norcalnick provides one more fantastic profile about one of Cal's greatest quarterbacks.
Because I am also a San Francisco 49er fan, I tuned into the 2005 NFL draft very much hoping that Aaron Rodgers would complete his destiny as a childhood Joe Montana fan and don the Red and Gold as our franchise quarterback. Four years later and I’m still not sure if I wished that had happened.
Rodgers only had about a season and a half to make an impression as a starter for the Golden Bears, and he wasted very little time. Taking over as starting QB midway through the ’03 season, Rodgers led a late season charge for a bowl berth in a year that was expected to be a rebuilding year. He then had perhaps the best performance ever by a Cal QB in a bowl game, sending expectations for 2004 sky-high in a thrilling, crazy 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl. He threw for 394 yards and 2 TDs.
His 2005 season can almost be described as disappointing, although none of the fault would fall to Rodgers. How can a 10-2 season be disappointing? How about when hard-luck injuries gradually hamper the passing game as the team slowly puts the offensive burden on the legs of JJ Arrington? Or when those receiver injuries haunt Cal by essentially preventing any chance at a comeback in a painful loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl? And most of all, how about when your QB puts together one of the most impressive single game efforts in a losing effort to the eventual national champs? Never have I been surer of something football related in my life than when Cal had first and goal at the USC 9 with less than two minutes to go. Cal was going to score. Aaron Rodgers was 29-31. There is no way we don’t take the lead. I just sat numb in my chair when Jonathan Makonnen slipped on 4th down, not comprehending that I was wrong.
Go to Hell, BCS! You go to Hell and you DIE!
Sadly, the peak of Rodger’s passing attack at Cal was probably reached in Corvallis in the game just before Cal’s loss to USC. In that game Rodgers, Chase Lyman, and Geoff MacArthur absolutely blitzed Oregon State in a 49-7 victory. Next week Lyman would go down with a knee injury that would essentially end is football career. Makonnen would miss most of the games that year with a variety of nagging ailments and MacArthur played through various problems that limited his abilities before going down with a freak injury in practice before the Holiday Bowl. It’s a testament to Rodger’s talent and Tedford’s coaching that Cal’s passing attack didn’t completely disappear.
Despite a rocky start, Rodgers came to embrace Green Bay fans, culture and moustaches.
Rodgers intelligently declared for the draft in a down year for quarterbacks. In one of the most unbelievable displays of NFL draft skullduggery he somehow slid to the end of the first round to the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers suffered through Brett Favre’s chronic indecisiveness and is now the unquestioned starter for a perennial playoff contender. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is for some reason still considered a viable starting quarterback contender for the 49ers. I said above that I don’t know if I’m still upset that the 49ers drafted Smith over Rodgers. That’s because I wouldn’t wish the 49er’s dysfunction on a Cal quarterback as clearly talented as Rodgers is, even if that means he has to play for a team that knocked out my 49ers every damned year in the late 90s. When everything is done many expect Rodgers to finish his NFL career as the most decorated quarterback ever to come out of Cal. I’ll remember him as the player that vaulted Cal from feel-good mid-conference team to perennial Pac-10 title contender.