Aaron Rodgers' love for the Bay Area and Northern California runs deep.
The Packers quarterback grew up in Chico and starred at Cal, and many believed he'd be drafted No. 1 overall by the 49ers before they passed on him to pick Alex Smith in 2005.
Rodgers since has crafted a Hall of Fame career in Green Bay, but spending his youth attached to the 49ers had a big impact on his life and career path.
"That was so important for me, as far as setting dreams and goals was being able to watch the late '80s and early '90s 49ers teams, which were obviously fantastic," Rodgers told NBC's Mike Tirico ahead of the Packers-49ers Week 12 "Sunday Night Football" clash. "I remember sitting down, we'd have a big Super Bowl party, and watching [Joe Montana] and The Drive. Then thinking, even at 5, 6 years old, 'That's what I want to do. I want to go out and be like that.' "
Rodgers largely has fulfilled his youthful dreams, becoming one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game while donning the green and yellow of Green Bay. Despite his greatness, Rodgers only has one Super Bowl ring to show for his legendary career, but he has the Packers (8-2) in position to make a Lombardi Trophy charge this season.
The Packers' biggest test to date will come Sunday night when they visit Levi's Stadium to face the team Rodgers grew up loving.
The 49ers (9-1) have been one of the most impressive teams in the NFL this season. A vaunted defense led by a fearsome defensive line helped the 49ers get out to an 8-0 start, but questions remained about whether or not quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could lead the team to victory when asked to do so. Garoppolo, without tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, couldn't in the 49ers' Week 10 overtime loss to the Seahawks, but he rebounded to throw four touchdown passes in San Francisco's come-from-behind win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.
The 49ers likely will need even more from Jimmy G on Sunday night to knock off the Packers and maintain a hold on the top playoff seed in the NFC.
Aaron Rodgers explains how growing up 49ers fan shaped him as NFL QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area