03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rodgers And Smith Face Off Four Years After Their First NFL Pick

Mike McCarthy was part of the choice on April 23, 2005, and surprisingly, that choice wasn't in favor of Aaron Rodgers.

During the 2005 draft, Rodgers was projected to be the first overall pick, and the San Francisco 49ers were on track to snatch up the successful quarterback. McCarthy, the offense coordinator of the 49ers at the time, along with the rest of his coaching staff, decided to set their sites on someone else. Alex Smith, a spread-offense quarterback from Utah, went No. 1. Rodgers sat quietly and watched as names dropped from the board until, finally, the Green Bay Packers, a team with (at the time) one of the most respected quarterbacks in the history of the game, decided to nab him.

Fast-forward four years and as head coach of the Green Bay Packers McCarthy couldn't be happier.

Smith was thrown into the game as a rookie, while Rodgers had the luxury of learning from Brett Favre, one of the best. In Smith's first season he threw for one touchdown and 11 interceptions, and his team went 4-12. Rodgers, on the other hand, served as Favre's backup from 2005 to 2007, and in his first full-season as a starter he threw for 4,038 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Don't get me wrong -- Rodgers' job as Green Bay's No. 2 quarterback wasn't easy. Given the media attention and the scrutiny that has attached itself to the never-ending Favre/ Rodgers saga, life might have been easier for Rodgers had he gone first overall. But he didn't.

And now he is up to face off against the man who sealed his fate as a Green Bay Packer. Though the two claim to be pals, this game has a lot riding on it, for both men.

Smith will want to prove to 49ers fans that they didn't make the wrong choice in 2005, while Rodgers is burdened with carrying a good-to-mediocre team with high expectations and less than fabulous results. With a 5-4 record, the Green Bay Packers are on the cusp of making the playoffs, and with two painful losses to Brett (Judas) Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, their hopes for a division title are a thing of the past.

Coming off a big win last weekend against the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers will find themselves at a metaphoric fork in their road. Do they defeat the 49ers and continue to build on this supposed and hopeful momentum that last week's decisive victory generated or do they buckle under the pressure (as they have before) and go back to being a ridiculed team who has yet to live up to its potential?

Four and a half years ago, someone made a choice that brought Aaron Rodgers to this 5-4 Packers team and made him quarterback of one of the most dedicated and passionate football franchises in the NFL. Though it's all working out for him, four and a half years ago, Rodger's fate was determined for him. This time, Rodgers, the decision is yours.

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