Aaron Rodgers Turned to Steve Young During Rough Early Years

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Aaron Rodgers got help from Steve Young while he was waiting for his turn behind Brett Favre.

    San Francisco football fans can take solace in at least one thing this weekend:  without the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers may not be the quarterback he is today.

    The Green Bay Packers starter is playing at a level that 49ers's fans got accustom to seeing their quarterbacks play at during the 80s and 90s.

    But things changed dramatically in 2005, when San Francisco decided to pass on the local boy -- Rodgers grew up in Chico and played college ball at Cal -- to draft the more hyped Alex Smith No. 1 over all.

    The rest is history. But the Rodgers' success story could have been much different had it not been for former 49ers' great Steve Young.

    "I had always been a fan of Steve's,'' Rodgers told CNNSI. "And back then, it seemed like he was somebody who would know exactly what I was going through. It's turned out that there were a lot of very similar stories from early in our careers.''

    Rodgers of course was dubbed the heir apparent to future hall of famer and living Green Bay legend Brett Favre. Most pundits thought that Favre was in his last year, maybe two.

    But it turned out Favre didn't want to go out of the league quietly. So Rodgers had to sit and wait behind the legend. Something Young did for four years behind hall of famer Joe Montana.

    Rodgers was the one to reach out to Young. He said he asked his agent to get No. 8's phone number so he could get some advice.

    Young counseled Rodgers on how to stay patient and most importantly keep his emotions in check while waiting for his chance to take over.

    "I told that him what's really important is never, ever allow yourself the cheap thrill of saying something just to make yourself feel better for a moment because something is unfair or not right, Young told CNNSI. "That always backfires on you. It never works out in the long run."

    Rodgers' San Francisco connection gives 49ers' fans another reason to lament on what could have been.

    Smith's tenure in San Francisco has all but come to an end, with the free agent expected to sign with another team this offseason. While Rodgers will play in his first Super Bowl this Sunday.

    Many 49ers' fans wanted their team to pick the local boy but instead the team went with Smith. The move was another shift away from the team's glory past by the current ownership.

    Under then coach Mike Nolan, the team had all but lost the identity created by Bill Walsh. Young has often talked on his weekly KNBR radio show that during the Nolan era, the team's connection with past players had ended.

    Young has often offered advice on how the 49ers can best utilize Smith. But Rodgers and fans of the Green Bay Packers was the beneficiary of the left handers' years of learning behind a legend.