The Uncertain Future for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay

“I don’t want to be a part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing,” Rodgers said.

Provided he wants to play at all, the question for Rodgers will be whether his desire to join another team toward the end of a sterling career — like Brady did after leaving the New England Patriots — trumps his desire to stay with a team that could still offer him the best chance to win next season and beyond. Potential suitors like Denver and Las Vegas are searching for new coaches, and their rosters — not accounting for the haul it would take to acquire Rodgers — pale to the assemblage of talent that Gutekunst has formed and, likely, will continue to form.

“Certainly we want him back here,” Coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think we would be crazy not to want him back here.”

As Rodgers spoke on a video conference, dressed in all black, he did not want to reflect on his all that comes next or his legacy beyond the friendships he has made. He rued his role in Saturday’s offensive malfunction — Green Bay scored on its opening drive, a 6-yard run by A.J. Dillon, but not again until early in the fourth quarter — and also the Packers’ special-teams collapse.

With one of the league’s worst units all season, Green Bay had a field-goal attempt blocked just before halftime, then — after stuffing San Francisco on fourth down at the Packers’ 19 — allowed Jordan Willis to penetrate the line and block Corey Bojorquez’s punt with less than five minutes remaining. Talanoa Hufanga scooped up the ball and returned it 6 yards to tie the score at 10-10.

Twice before in the postseason, Rodgers has led a game-winning drive. Back in Week 3 this season, he engineered one against these same 49ers. But in his final possession on Saturday night, the Packers faltered, with Rodgers lofting a deep pass on third down toward Adams into double coverage which, he said later, should have been thrown toward Allen Lazard. With San Francisco taking over on its own 29 with 3:20 left, Garoppolo, playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb and a sprained right shoulder, drove San Francisco 44 yards in nine plays to set up Gould’s winning kick.

The Packers, who had only 10 men on the field for it, trudged along the sideline. Rodgers shook hands and congratulated the 49ers and headed off the field, for what might have been the final time as a Packer.

Just two months ago, after returning from the 10-day isolation that accompanied his positive coronavirus test, Rodgers proclaimed the joy and gratitude he felt — because, he said, he refused to take moments like that for granted. His future, much as it did this time last year, remains a “beautiful mystery.”

And it has arrived much quicker than he expected.

“That’s life sometimes,” Rodgers said. “you think things are going a certain way and they take a big course correction and you just have to keep moving on and moving forward, even when you don’t think it is possible.”