Aaron Rodgers is about to give it one more try against the team that owns him, the 49ers

Aaron Rodgers is about to give it one more try against the team that owns him, the 49ers

Up to this point, San Francisco is to Aaron Rodgers what LeBron James is to the Toronto Raptors

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Aaron Rodgers seeks first postseason win in four tries against San Francisco on Saturday.
Aaron Rodgers seeks first postseason win in four tries against San Francisco on Saturday.
Image: Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have advanced to the playoffs 11 times since Aaron Rodgers became their starting quarterback. The only years that they didn’t make the playoffs were his first year as a starter in 2008, 2017 when injury cost him more than half the season, and in 2018 when he battled through a knee injury to start all 16 games, but his performance was not up to his usual standards and the Packers finished 6-9-1.

It’s an impressive run, but in only one season have the Packers reached the Super Bowl with Rodgers as a starter, their championship 2010 season — a season in which they had to win the final game of the regular season to clinch the last NFC playoff spot. The next year, they finished as the most disappointing 15-1 team in history of the NFL, going one and done, after getting smoked by the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

The Packers didn’t even make the NFC Championship Game again until the 2014 season and have gone 0-4 in appearances in that game since winning the Super Bowl.

However, no team has been more troublesome for Rodgers and the Packers than the San Francisco 49ers. His predecessor at quarterback, Brett Favre, had little trouble with the legendary Jerry Rice and Steve Young — and certainly none with Elvis Grbac in 1996. The Packers eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs three consecutive seasons, and were 4-1 against them with Favre as the starter.

With Rodgers as the starter, it’s like “The Opposite” episode of Seinfeld. George’s life is a mess, so he decides to do the opposite of every instinct he has, and he begins to thrive while Elaine’s life falls apart. The 49ers are currently the chicken-salad sandwich eating, new assistant to the traveling secretary of the New York Yankees George Costanza, and the Packers are the Jujyfruits eating, Pendant Publishing ruining Elaine Benes.

Rodgers is 0-3 against the 49ers in the playoffs and every loss has been different. Whether Rodgers gets outdueled by a quarterback who, for some reason, was out of the NFL in his late 20s; comes up short in a defensive struggle; or he and his team melt like a Hershey’s bar left in a car in July, they cannot get past the team from Northern California.

Saturday night may be his final chance at the 49ers in a Packers uniform, so let’s look back at how the previous matchups played out.

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2013 Divisional Round: 49ers 45, Packers 31 - Rodgers falls to the fastest gun in the West 

2013 Divisional Round: 49ers 45, Packers 31 - Rodgers falls to the fastest gun in the West 

The 49ers win with a boost from Colin Kaepernick’s record rushing performance.
The 49ers win with a boost from Colin Kaepernick’s record rushing performance.
Photo: Getty Images

Even with a surprising loss to the Giants the season before, Rodgers was still the Discount Double Check darling of the NFL. This mobile quarterback with a chip on his shoulder took over for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and quickly returned the team to dominance.

In the Bay Area, another mobile quarterback had a former NFL power thinking Super Bowl. Colin Kaepernick took over for the 49ers in Week 9 of the 2012 season, leading them to the second-best record in the NFC. In his first-ever playoff game, playing in Candlestick Park, he shredded the Packers for 181 yards on the ground — a record for a quarterback in any game, regular season or playoff — along with 263 yards passing and four total touchdowns.

Rodgers was solid as well with 257 yards passing and two touchdowns and matched Kaepernick every step of the way until the fourth quarter. The Packers never saw the lead again after Kaepernick raced out of sight on a 56-yard touchdown run.

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2014 Wild-Card: 49ers 23, Packers 20 - Rodgers, Packers KO’d in final round

2014 Wild-Card: 49ers 23, Packers 20 - Rodgers, Packers KO’d in final round

Defensive battle in Green Bay ends Rodgers’ season in Wild Card round.
Defensive battle in Green Bay ends Rodgers’ season in Wild Card round.
Photo: Getty Images

No offensive records were set on this frigid day in Green Bay. It was a defensive struggle as the Packers managed only one yard of total offense until early in the second quarter. They then traded touchdowns with the 49ers and ended the first half with a field goal to go into halftime down 13-10.

No one scored in the third quarter, and the teams traded touchdowns again early in the fourth. The Packers finally had a chance to take the lead on 3rd-and-goal with 5:24 remaining, but on that play, all Rodgers could manage was to fall to the turf for two yards as the Packers got flagged for holding. They tied the game with a field goal, and when the 49ers got the ball they chewed up the rest of the game clock to win with a field goal of their own.

After defeating one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history in consecutive years, the 49ers fell apart in blindingly fast fashion due to a petty front office, and an alarming number of players retiring in their youth. Also their quarterback, Kaepernick, decided in 2016 to engage in public protest during the national anthem because he was disgusted by police brutality and has not been seen in an NFL uniform since that season.

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2020 NFC Championship Game: 49ers 37, Packers 20 - Packers spontaneously combust

2020 NFC Championship Game: 49ers 37, Packers 20 - Packers spontaneously combust

Raheem Mostert’s 220 yards and four touchdowns sends 49ers to Super Bowl.
Raheem Mostert’s 220 yards and four touchdowns sends 49ers to Super Bowl.
Photo: Getty Images

It took a few years but the 49ers changed up the front office and rebuilt the roster. They were the best team in the NFC in 2019, and for a second consecutive year, Rodgers wasn’t playing his best. Still, it was good enough to have the Packers within one game of the Super Bowl.

Playing on the road, the Packers were down 10-0 five seconds into the second quarter when, as an entire team, they forgot how to play football. In four drives that quarter they managed to shank a punt in their own territory, fumble a snap deep in 49ers territory, muff a punt return and recover it only for Rodgers to throw an interception, and their final drive of the quarter was useless with only 29 seconds remaining.

Their deficit by halftime had ballooned to 27-0, and the 49ers only threw the ball twice in the second quarter. Raheem Mostert would finish that game with 220 yards rushing, four touchdowns, and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. Jimmy Garoppolo completed six passes for 77 yards.

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