GREEN BAY, Wis. — In this week’s meeting with the media, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked about returning to his home state of California for the playoff game this weekend in San Francisco, what can be taken away from the Week 1 game against the 49ers and much more.
Five question-and-answer highlights:
1. What do you remember from your first playoff game and what did you learn from it?
RODGERS: I think the nerves were definitely there. It was a road game, it was a loud environment. We had a lot of confidence and I think you learn that you have to start well in the game, and you can’t make mistakes. We turned the ball over two of our first three plays and fought back to get in the game and had a chance to win in overtime. You’ve got to make the plays that are there.
2. Why have you (and the team) been so successful on the road?
RODGERS: I think Mike (McCarthy) does a real good job of setting the schedule every week and making sure we have enough time to prepare but also to refresh mentally. He gives us time when we get to a city to relax. I think that’s important. He doesn’t bog us down with a lot of night meetings. But I think it’s the mindset, it’s a focus; it’s a business trip. It’s kind of the us-against-the-world mentality, if you will. But Mike’s always done a real good job of kind of setting the direction with the schedule when we go on the road.
3. What will it mean to play at Candlestick Park in the playoffs?
RODGERS: It will be fun. I went to a few baseball games there growing up, and saw a game there when I was in college. The stadium’s got a lot of tradition. Looks like we’re kind of fortunate with the weather right now. Still wonder what that’s going to be like. But it will be a night game, it will be loud, it will be a great environment and it should be a good show for the fans.
4. How pertinent is the Week 1 game against the 49ers in sizing up this matchup now?
RODGERS: Not much. I really don’t think so. We’re a different football team. They’re playing differently. They have a lot of the same players obviously, but we’ve got some different faces out there and we’re doing some different things. We didn’t have a great opportunity to get the run game going out there, we tried to get Cedric (Benson) going and now we’re at our fifth different starting running back in DuJuan Harris. We’re a different football team, they are as well. Teams kind of figure out their identity during the season. Week 1 is a learning experience for everybody, whether it’s win or lose. We lost that game, otherwise we’d be hosting this right now.
5. Did you have a sense after Week 1 that you’d see the 49ers again in the playoffs?
RODGERS: You knew it’s a talented team. Any time they’re on national TV they did a real good job. They made some changes on offense and they kept on rolling defensively. They’ve dealt with a couple injuries, I think, but for the most their guys have been able to stay healthy. They’re a very well-coached football team. You kind of knew after Week 1 they were going to be one of the top teams in the league. We weren’t kind of sure where we were going to be at, but we were hoping we’d be in a position to be in the playoffs.