Darting here and there ...

Û Aaron Rodgers once played as Joe Montana in his backyard. Saturday, the bet here is he plays as Joe in the 49ers' backyard.

Û Forget what happened in the opener. Rodgers has been waiting seven years for this -- a payback in postseason, at Candlestick. With Alex Smith standing on the sideline, no less.

Û Maybe we're a bit biased toward our fellow Chico native, but high motivation in a great player is a scary thing. The Niners better be prepared to score 30.

Û But they won't. Chico 30, Turlock 20.

Û Then again, we used up all our good karma in going 4-0 with last week's NFL picks. Could see going 0-4 with Packers, Falcons, Ravens, Patriots. Well, maybe 1-3. No way Tom Brady and Co. go belly up this soon.

Û Justin Smith might play, but with a torn triceps, he'll surely be a shell of his massive self. And the trickle-down effect will give Rodgers split seconds he didn't get in September.

Û Although he'll be on the active roster, it looks as if Billy Cundiff will be spared the role of prospective billy goat.

Û Jim Harbaugh's probably right on the kicker quandary. Don't change horses in midstream. Alas, gimpy David Akers has booted like Mr. Ed for much of the second half.

Û Game within the game: Two old warriors, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson, will surely lock horns on at least a few plays Saturday. Moss should be supremely motivated -- he still doesn't have a ring, and this might be his last chance.


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Û How the 49ers might turn the verdict -- surprise the Pack with a little A.J. Jenkins. Or better yet, a little tight end M.I.A. Vernon Davis (six catches, 61 yards, no TDs in the last six games).

Û Symmetry dept.: If it does turn out to be a Packers-Falcons NFC Championship game, Rodgers can finish the payback job against Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the man who made the final call on Alex over Aaron way back in 2005.

Û Yep, the bubble will burst for the Seattle Seahawks, too. They've simply been too good to believe and are ripe for a meltdown. Heightening that hunch: Badly disrespected Atlanta is ripe to take it out on someone. Smug Pete Carroll works perfectly.

Û Possible frauds waiting to be exposed: The Denver Broncos. Fattened up on the Raiders and Chiefs, now let's see how Peyton Manning and Co. -- mostly the Co. -- do against a good team.

Û Apparently, some Hall of Fame voters were even suspicious of the "big" in Biggio. Next year, Craig, but a bit of a crime it wasn't this one.

Û Barry Bonds drowned his sorrows the day of the Cooperstown announcement by vacationing in Maui. He won't let on that this bothers him, even if he has to go lay on a beach to prove it.

Û East Coast bias, PED edition: Roger Clemens got eight more votes than Bonds. Regardless of how you stand on the Hall steroid issue, how does that happen?

Û Rare bit of creative levity by the New York Times this week, running a blank front sports page under the headline "And the inductees are ... "

Û Meanwhile, Bay Area headline writers rejoice over the A's signing of pitcher Chris Resop, thus assuring at least one headline next year denoting "Resop's Foibles."

Û No, we're not supposed to get your hopes up, but Andrew Bogut was allegedly doing light jogging at practice this week. Next week, a brisk saunter?

Û Nick Saban has his repeat. Next question: Will he make a repeat appearance at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am? Transplanted Alabamians wait with bated breath.

Û Speaking of repeat AT&T appearances, what of Tiger Woods? Tiger started his American season at Pebble last year, but this year it'll be at Torrey Pines two weeks before. Woods' photo still adorns the 2013 AT&T tournament website. Hint or prayer?

Û Finally, congrats to colleague Tim Kawakami for being named California Sportswriter of the Year. But come on, he didn't even make the finals of The Blitz? More mountains still to conquer.

Contact Carl Steward at csteward@bayareanewsgroup.com.