The phone call that ended the 49ers’ Aaron Rodgers pursuit

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How close did the San Francisco 49ers come to landing Aaron Rodgers?

According to head coach Mike Shanahan, not close at all. 

Mere hours before April’s 2021 NFL Draft, reports that Aaron Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay sent shockwaves through the league. For the host of teams in search of a franchise quarterback – San Francisco among them – the thought of landing Rodgers stirred the imagination.

On the eve of the draft, Shanahan spoke with Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. He informed LaFleur that 49ers general manager John Lynch intended to call Packers general manager Brian Gutekust to discuss Rodgers’ availability. 

“And Matt told me what I pretty much thought he would,” Shanahan told The Athletic. “He’s like, ‘Aw, you can have him call him, do whatever you want, but you know there’s no way in hell that we’re trading him to you guys.’ … And I came in the next day, I told John, ‘You can call if you want, but I don’t want to waste your time.’ And John quickly agreed and so he never ended up calling.” 

Kyle Shanahan's 49ers briefly pursued Aaron Rodgers.
Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers briefly pursued Aaron Rodgers.
Getty Images

Rodgers, still a Packer, was a no-show for last week’s mandatory minicamp. At an event at Lambeau Field last Thursday, Green Bay president Mark Murphy refused to comment on the situation beyond calling Rodgers a “complicated fella.” 

With a trade for Rodgers not an option, the 49ers proceeded to use the third overall pick to select quarterback Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. As training camp looms, Shanahan conceded that he still views the enigmatic, injury-riddled Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter. 

Yet, Lance remains in the running. 

“If Trey’s ready to compete, I have no problem with it,” Shanahan said. “I don’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, we’re not playing a rookie quarterback. We have to rest him the first year.’ … If he comes in and he’s playing at a high level and we think he gives us the best chance to win, we wouldn’t hesitate to do that.”

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