Packers LT David Bakhtiari said his family has had season tickets to San Francisco 49ers games at Candlestick Park since he was a little kid.
How fitting, then, that the rookie will be making his NFL debut this Sunday at the same stadium his family has visited countless times over the years.
“I grew up in their backyard,” Bakhtiari, a native of San Mateo, Calif., in the Bay Area, said of the 49ers. “It’s almost kind of ironic. It will be cool. I’ll see how my emotions are come Sunday.”
His emotions will need to be under control in order to handle one tough assignment — San Francisco pass rusher Aldon Smith, who has 33 1/2 sacks in his first two pro seasons. With veteran Justin Smith rushing next to Aldon Smith, the 49ers have possessed one of the toughest pass-rushing combos to handle in the league.
Bakhtiari has handled everything thrown his way thus far, keeping him confident, yet he remains humble. QB Aaron Rodgers has confidence in Bakhtiari protecting his blind side and said these are the battles he should relish.
“He’s up against a Pro Bowl guy, one of the best in the business, and he’s continuing to get better. You can see it on the film,” Rodgers said of Aldon Smith. “He’s still athletic as all get-out.
“It’s a tough test, but that’s what you want. If you want to be considered an elite player at your position, like I know David does down the road — he’s a confident guy — these are the kind of matchups you want.”
It’s hard to say whether or not Bakhtiari’s parents are thrilled about their son going up against their hometown team right off the bat. Bakhtiari said his dad is going to wear Bakhtiari’s No. 69 Packers jersey with a 49ers jacket over it for the game.
Bakhtiari said the last 49ers game he remembers attending was the 2011 NFC Wild Card game between San Francisco and New Orleans, one that became a playoff classic with multiple lead changes in the waning minutes. He’s not making any predictions as to whether or not Sunday’s game will go down in history somehow.
“I want to make it a ‘W,’” he said. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. Whether it’s memorable or not, that’s left to the eye of the beholder. I just want to go in there, play good football and hopefully our team comes out on top.”
Additional coverage – Sept. 5
Tags: 49ers, aaron rodgers, candlestick park, david bakhtiari
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