Records: Green Bay (12-5, 4-4 away), San Francisco (11-4-1, 6-1-1 home)
Time: 5 p.m.
TV: Fox 28
Line: 49ers by 3, over/under: 45
Briefly: When Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns to the Bay Area to face San Francisco tonight, it will be a homecoming – with a twist. His beloved 49ers passed on him with the first pick in the 2005 draft, selecting Alex Smith instead. Rodgers, a candidate for that prime draft slot, tumbled to 24th, where the Packers selected him.
Rodgers certainly isn’t grousing about that now, having won a Super Bowl and an MVP award with Green Bay, yet he certainly has to love the opportunity he has this weekend. He’s returning to Candlestick Park with a chance to knock off what used to be his favorite team. As a kid, he wore a Joe Montana T-shirt under his pads, and grew up emulating Steve Young.
“It will be fun,” Rodgers said. “It will be loud, it will be a great environment, and it should be a good show for the fans.”
Rodgers has won three playoff games on the road, two shy of the NFL record, and he was outstanding away from home this season, with 22 touchdown passes and just three passes intercepted.
San Francisco wide receiver Randy Moss has 10 postseason touchdown catches, tied for the third-most in NFL playoff history. In his only playoff game against Green Bay (with Minnesota, a wild card, on Jan. 2, 2005), Moss had two TD catches.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, on the Packers trying to gain yards on the ground against San Francisco’s stout defense: “This isn’t the ’85 Bears we’re talking about, but it’s hard to imagine the Packers being a team that’s going to go in there to Candlestick and be able to run the ball effectively. But as we know, and what we’ve seen from (Packers coach) Mike McCarthy … as long as the score is close, he’s not going to give up on the running game.”
This figures to be close between two evenly matched teams. Critical to the 49ers will be the health and effectiveness of DL Justin Smith, who plans to play despite a torn triceps. I give the 49ers a slight edge for being rested and at home, 24-21.
Sam Farmer, L.A. Times