SAN FRANCISCO -- The quarterback who wanted to be with the San Francisco 49ers is playing against them. In perfect symmetry, the quarterback who wanted to be with the Green Bay Packers is playing against them.
Aaron Rodgers, who grew up three hours north of San Francisco and was a 49ers fan but was ignored by them in the draft after a great career at Cal, leads the Packers against the 49ers Saturday night in an NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.
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Colin Kaepernick, who originally is from Wisconsin and hoped to be with the Packers until he moved to California, will make his first postseason start for the 49ers.
"It will be fun," Rodgers said earlier in the week.
It will be critical. The winner advances to the NFC Championship Game, where a year ago at Candlestick, the Giants beat the 49ers in overtime -- a game after beating the Packers.
There are numerous subplots to a game scheduled to be played in below-normal temperatures, though the expected low 40s is nothing comparable to what it is in Green Bay.
San Francisco has a defense ranked third and one that allowed the second-fewest points (273) in the NFL. Green Bay has a quarterback in Rodgers who led the league in passer rating and threw 39 touchdown passes against only eight interceptions in the regular season.
When Smith suffered a concussion against the Rams Nov. 11, he was replaced by Kaepernick. Coach Jim Harbaugh has stuck with Kaepernick since.
"I've been playing football a long time," said Kaepernick, a second-round selection (by Harbaugh) out of Nevada in 2011. "Football is football when you get on the field. It's another game. There's just more at stake."
49ers second-year defensive end Aldon Smith is second in the NFL with 191/2 sacks, but the loss of the other defensive end, Justin Smith, was costly as the Seahawks smashed San Francisco, 42-13, on Dec. 23. Justin Smith, seemingly recovered from a torn tendon in his left triceps, is listed as probable against the Packers.
Harbaugh brought in free agent Billy Cundiff to challenge kicker David Akers after Akers' mediocre regular season (Akers was 30th in field-goal accuracy), but after a week of teasing the media, Harbaugh announced Thursday that Akers will return to his job. Not to be outdone, Green Bay's Mason Crosby is 31st in field-goal percentage.