Reporting Doug Sovern
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Central Valley hometowns of the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers quarterbacks are abuzz about a playoff showdown on Saturday that promises a double dose of local boy makes good.
There are remarkable parallels in the stories of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Packers quaterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers was born in Chico and became a star at Cal who yearned to play for the 49ers. Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee but grew up in the town of Turlock and dreamed of playing for Green Bay.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
Turlock and Chico have been buzzing with pride and excitement about the upcoming NFC championship faceoff.
There is tremendous anticipation at Pleasant Valley High and Butte Junior College among friends like Matt Hock, who has known Rodgers since he was 13.
“We don’t get to see Aaron play on the west coast that often, so when he is somewhere near, there’s a little bit more of an added buzz,” Hock said.
This will be Rodgers’ first game in San Francisco against the team he worshipped as a child. Hock says Rodgers’ success with Green Bay has turned longtime Niner fans in Chico into Cheeseheads.
“The 49ers passing up on greatness back when Aaron got drafted in 2005 adds another layer to it,” he said.
There’s just as much excitement in Turlock about Kaepernick, the pride of Pitman High, now slated to play against the team he once longed to join.
Kaepernick’s father was a big cheese at a Wisconsin dairy before joining a cheese company in the Central Valley when his son was four years old.
Kaepernick became a star student and three-sport athlete at Pitman High, said counselor Phil Sanchez, who is a close friend of the family.
“There’s so many different levels that I’m proud of him,” Sanchez said.
“I’m probably, you know, more proud of just who he is as a person than what he does on the field.”
Although at the moment, his prowess on the field has dominated the local conversation.
“Everywhere you go,” Sanchez said, “whether you’re at the grocery store or out and about on the town.”
“That’s the talk of how proud they are of Colin and how well he represents this area.”
Their California State University schools in Turlock and Chico are rivals in the same conference.
For the moment, Rodgers gives Chico an edge, in Hock’s opinion. “As soon as Turlock puts out a Super Bowl champion MVP, then maybe the dialogue can start. But for right now, it’s Chico 1, Turkock 0,” Hock said.
Sanchez hopes Kaepernick starts down the road to evening that score this Saturday when the two towns’ most famous athletes go head to head in prime time on the NFL playoff stage.
“They can’t wait ‘til Saturday rolls around,” Sanchez said.
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