Nolan: 49ers chose 'safe' Smith over 'cocky, arrogant' Rodgers

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Nolan: 49ers chose 'safe' Smith over 'cocky, arrogant' Rodgers

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan said the decision was made to go with the safe pick in quarterback Alex Smith over “cocky” and “arrogant” Aaron Rodgers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

Nolan revisited the thinking of the 49ers’ decision-makers, including general manager Scot McCloughan, during a guest appearance Tuesday morning on the NFL Network.

“Basically, we thought in the long term that Alex Smith would be the better choice than Aaron,” Nolan said. “It was one of those, maybe, paralysis by analysis. We had so much time to think about it.

“We put a lot of stock in changing Aaron’s throwing style. We also got caught up a little bit in that Alex was so mobile. That was a good thing. But in the end, we felt Alex would be the better long-time guy. Obviously, we were wrong in that thought process.”

The personality of the two players also played a part in swaying the decision, Nolan said.

“The other thing as Alex at the time was a good kid – a very good person, a safe choice, always trying to please,” Nolan said. “On the other hand, Aaron was very cocky, very confident, arrogant. So you can say, ‘Why didn’t you take him to begin with?’ Because that’s really what your best quarterbacks look like. They aren’t very pleasing. They aren’t very safe.

“And as time has showed, that’s really how Alex plays. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s very secure with the ball. And on the other hand, Aaron is a slinger. He’s all over the place and makes great, big plays. Obviously, he’ll be a Hall of Fame player one day.”

The 49ers were not the only team to miss on Rodgers, who went undrafted in 23 slots before the Green Bay Packers selected him. Rodgers is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time league MVP, to go along with one Super Bowl MVP. One of the 49ers coaches with a voice in the decision was then-coordinator Mike McCarthy, who has thrived in 10 seasons as Packers coach with Rodgers.

When asked what he would do differently, Nolan stated the obvious.

“We would’ve chosen Aaron,” Nolan said.

Smith has forged a good career after a rough start with the 49ers. A shoulder injury limited him to seven games in 2007 and he missed the entire 2008 season. Smith had six different coordinators in his first six NFL seasons. After experiencing success under Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman for 1 1/2 seasons, Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013.

“But I will say in all fairness to Alex, what he’s doing today, it would’ve been nice if we’d done that,” Nolan said. “What they do at Kansas City with Andy Reid, running the zone read, using his legs as well as his arm, having a very strong defense, if we’d built it that way, we’ would’ve had a better chance to be successful.

“As it was, we put him into a prototypical offense, tried to make him into a pocket quarterback. That’s really not what Alex is. He’s doing what he’s doing best right now, and that’s why he plays well right now. He helps their football team win. Obviously, Aaron has greatness in him. Alex is a good, solid performer.”

49ers sign free-agent wide receiver

49ers sign free-agent wide receiver

The 49ers, a team with no head coach and no general manager, on Thursday added their third player in the past week to a reserve/future contract.

The 49ers signed wide receiver Rashad Ross, a product of Vallejo High School. Ross has appeared in 20 NFL games the past three seasons with Chicago and Washington. In 2015, Ross caught eight passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in 13 games with Washington.

Ross (6 foot, 180 pounds) played collegiately at Arizona State via Butte College in Oroville. Ross caught 37 passes for 610 yards and six touchdowns in 2012 with the Sun Devils.

Washington released Ross on Dec. 22. In addition to seeing game against with Chicago and Washington, he has also been on the practice squads of Tennessee and Kansas City.

The 49ers also signed Nick Rose, a kicker who spent last offseason with the Atlanta Falcons, to a reserve/future contract on Wednesday. Rose made 27 of his 38 field-goal attempts duringhis four-year career at Texas.

Last week, the 49ers signed left-footed punter Brock Miller (Southern Utah) to a reserve/future contract. A reserve/future contract takes effect at the beginning of the new league year on March 9.

The 49ers’ personnel department remains intact after the firing of general manager Trent Baalke. Assistant general manager Tom Gamble and director of pro personnel Mike Williams are most likely responsible for the signings.

CEO Jed York said on Jan. 2 that the new head coach and general manager will have full power to assemble their staffs.

Shanahan wins NFL Assistant Coach of the Year

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USATSI

Shanahan wins NFL Assistant Coach of the Year

Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the presumptive 49ers' next head coach, was announced Thursday as the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Dallas’ Jason Garrett was selected as NFL Coach of the Year and Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was chosen as NFL Executive of the Year in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan as head coach until the Falcons’ season has concluded. Atlanta plays host to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

Shanahan interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 5 during the Falcons’ bye week in the playoffs. He is scheduled for a second interview with the club next week, regardless of the outcome of the Falcons’ game Sunday.

Under Shanahan’s direction, the Falcons scored an NFL-best and franchise record 540 points, which tied the 2000 St. Louis Rams for eighth-most in NFL history. Atlanta’s 6,653 total yards ranks No. 13 in NFL history.

The Falcons finished as champions of the NFC South with an 11-5 record and the NFC’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, who was announced this week as the PFWA NFL Most Valuable Player, thrived in Shanahan’s offense. Ryan threw touchdown passes to a NFL-record 13 different receivers and led the league with a 117.1 passer rating.