Instead of getting a chance to start and being recognized for his ability, Rodgers took the clipboard behind Brett Favre, while Smith was given the run of the San Francisco offense in his first season.
Within a few years, though, the storylines changed. Smith worked under new coaches and offensive coordinators almost every season, with the 49ers becoming a laughingstock and Smith being widely panned. Rodgers, meanwhile, took over in Green Bay and is now considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, with a Super Bowl trophy and MVP honors to boot.
That doesn’t mean there’s any animosity from Rodgers toward Smith, though. Just the opposite, in fact — Rodgers wishes his draft buddy would get a chance to shine.
“I can’t imagine to have to go through that many offensive coordinators, and the turnovers in coaches has been tough for him,” Rodgers told NFL Total Access. “He comes in, he’s 70 percent completion, he’s 100-plus quarterback rating last year, he’s like barely over 1 percent interception percentage. He’s just a great quarterback.
“He just needs to go somewhere [where] he gets appreciated for the skills he has, and hopefully he gets a chance next year.”
Smith missed time this season while dealing with a concussion, and the 49ers have stuck with second-year passer Colin Kaepernick ever since, even though Smith was nearly flawless for San Francisco at the beginning of the season. Kaepernick is a much more mobile quarterback with big-arm potential, but it’s still a tough hit for a veteran quarterback who has done everything his team has asked of him.
Now Smith has the support of a guy who definitely knows something about quarterbacking. And, for what it’s worth, Smith’s 70 percent completion rate, 7.98 yards per attempt and 104.1 rating are right up there or better than Rodgers’ 66.7 percent, 7.57 yards per attempt and 104.7 rating this year. Just sayin’.