SANTA CLARA -- Quarterbacks don’t play other quarterbacks, despite what pregame NFL hype tends to suggest. It won't be not Rodgers vs. Garoppolo during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.
It’s Garoppolo vs. the Packers defense. It’s Rodgers vs. a ferocious 49ers front and sticky secondary.
Opposing signal-callers won’t waste time this week watching tape of each other. That’s not an effective use of limited time.
Garoppolo has found a cause to turn on some Rodgers tape at several other points. After all, it can’t hurt to study one of the greatest to ever do it. And, Garoppolo even compared himself to Rodgers during the 2014 pre-NFL draft process.
“There’s a lot to like. The way he processes information quickly, the way he can scramble and make throws on the run, it’s really a little bit of everything,” Garoppolo said before Wednesday's 49ers practice. “I enjoy watching his film to prepare and watching it to learn from and see things that he does. It’s just impressive. He does it at such a high level for such a long time now.
"You have to tip your hat to him.”
Garoppolo obviously has seen a ton of Rodgers on tape and on TV, but quickly recalled the first time he saw Rogers in person.
“My first live action was when I was with the Patriots, and we were playing in Green Bay [during the 2014 season],” Garoppolo said. “I remember that him and Jordy [Nelson] had a field day. It was one hell of a game. He’s an awesome guy and a great competitor.”
It was easy to gain respect for Rodgers after that showing. He torched New England during Garoppolo’s rookie year, completing 24-of-38 passes for 368 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 112.6 passer rating in a Packers win.
Rodgers won his second MVP award then issuing a master class in quarterbacking against the eventual Super Bowl champion.
That was more than five years ago now. Rodgers is a little older, but a little wiser and just as awesome.
Despite the 49ers dominating the Packers earlier this season, there’s immense respect for Rodgers and his ability to control games.
“He can make a throw in any situation, and that he’s never out of a game,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We were up 23-0 at halftime and he went and made it 23-8 on his first second-half. It’s 23-8 halfway through the third quarter and I still think it’s a close game. That’s because of the quarterback.”
Those concerns are valid while playing someone who has orchestrated 23 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, someone ranked high among the most talented quarterbacks to ever play football. The 49ers beat him once this season.
Can they do it again?
“There’s probably not anyone on the planet who throws better than him,” Shanahan said. “There might be a couple guys you could compare with him, but his arm talent is just unbelievable. His athletic ability is unbelievable. He has always been able to run around and extend plays and make throws from any angle. He’s a very intelligent guy who can get you in the right play. That makes it hard to throw stuff at him that he’s not prepared for.
“Aaron is as good of a player to have ever played this game. He can make every throw. He has a lot of good players around him. There’s a reason he seems to be in [the NFC Championship Game] a lot.”
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.