Aaron Rodgers on Alex Smith: “I think he plays the position pretty well.”

SANTA CLARA – Aaron Rodgers spoke to Bay Area reporters this afternoon on a conference call. He spoke about the Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Alex Smith and the term “game manager.” Here’s a transcript.

Q: What makes the 49ers’ defense stand out among the NFL’s defenses?

RODGERS: They have the best players. Front the front-seven to the back end they’re solid. They don’t have any weaknesses. A lot of Pro-Bowl players and a lot of guys who could be Pro-Bowl players, big names and guys who don’t get the respect they probably deserve yet but will.

Q: Will you have to account for Justin Smith with two blockers?

RODGERS: Maybe three or four, depending on where he lines up. I think he’s definitely one of the best players in the NFL regardless of position. Most offensive guys would probably agree. Maybe his teammates feel the same way.

Q: A lot of people have referred to Alex Smith as a game manager. When you hear that about a quarterback what do you make of it, and do you think he is a game manager?

RODGERS: I think that term is a condescending term for quarterbacks. I don’t think he’s a game manager, I think he’s a guy who takes care of the football and makes a lot of plays. I don’t think he got the respect that he deserves. I’ve been friends with him since we were 21 and I’ve followed his career. It’s nice to have been able to reconnect over the last year or so. I definitely pull for him and enjoy watching him play. I think he plays the position pretty well – just look at the Saints game. The plays that he made down the stretch were incredible. When you add some weapons to the mix like they did with Manningham and Moss, I think you can open it up more because (Smith) has the ability and the talent.

Q: You mentioned you were able to reconnect with Alex. How did that happen?

RODGERS: We both spent some time down in San Diego in the offseason, and we both played in the American Century Championship again this year. We talked on the phone a few times during the offseason. He’s just a real good guy, and it’s been fun to kind of grow up in the league together. We’re both in our eighth season, we’ve been through a lot – him a lot more coaching changes and stuff, but we’ve both dealt with some adversity and it’s fun to see him leading and playing really well.

Q: Who’s the better golfer?

RODGERS: I think I beat him.

Q: You didn’t face the 49ers last year when NaVorro Bowman became a regular starter. How have he and Patrick Willis together as inside linebackers changed the 49ers’ defense?

RODGERS: I think they’re the best tandem of 3-4 linebackers in the league. I think NaVorro has All-Pro ability. He’s talented sideline-to-sideline, athletic, moves around well in space. Put him and Patrick together and it makes it tough to do anything inside against them. I think he’s one of the top guys. Playing next to Patrick he may not get the recognition yet, but I can promise there are teams and players around the league who know who he is and have a lot of respect for his talent.

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