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Armando Salguero’s OutKick NFL QB Talk: Aaron Rodgers Explains What To Look For In A Head Coach; Jimmy G Reflects On Last Ride With 49ers; Big Ben Talks of Winning For, Well, Big Ben

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Seven NFL teams are going to be naming a head coach at the end of this hiring cycle, and there are a lot of ways to approach finding the right guy.

Teams can search for the young genius.

Teams can search for the veteran coach with past head coaching experience.

Teams can look to coordinators or other current assistants with no NFL head coaching experience.

And teams can look at college coaches, although none has done that yet.

Well, Aaron Rodgers — with 17 seasons in the NFL — has seen all those types of coaches come and go. And in that time, one of the league’s best players has developed an opinion of what characteristics make the best head coach.

Tell us, Aaron.

“On a base level, to be able to relate to players and lead a room should be at the top of any general manager or owner’s desires,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “You have to be able to relate to guys.

“This whole college mentality, high school mentality where the coach needs the players to be scared of him, where some of this way of coaching has thankfully gone the way of the white buffalo, that shouldn’t be a part of, you know, what people are looking for.”

Rodgers thinks coaching is a people-skills job as much as an Xs and Os job. And he believes communication is a huge part of the position.

“What it should be is an ability to relate to the guys, to understand what they’re into, how to inspire them best, how to get them to be self-motivated, set the framework for the squad, and the focus,” Rodgers said. “And then trust your staff that you put together. Trust the leadership of the football team. Encourage player-led teams. And then there needs to be somebody who can control the room with presence, with speech, with the concise message needed at certain times.”

Rodgers, by the way, is off this week because his team is the No. 1 seed in the NFC and has a bye. That’s good for the fractured toe he’s played on for weeks and bad for opponents because the rest is going to help

“Feeling good, practiced today,” Rodgers reported. “Close to 100 percent. I think I should be 100 percent probably by next week.”

Jimmy G’s Last Ride In San Francisco

Jimmy Garoppolo did an outstanding job overcoming injury, managing difficult circumstances, and playing relatively well in helping the San Francisco 49ers get in the postseason by winning three of the final four games he started.

San Francisco visits the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and everyone’s excited about that.

But if everything goes according to plan in San Francisco, this will be Garoppolo’s last chance to lead the team in the playoffs — or in any games. Because next season, the 49ers expect to hand the reins of the offense to Trey Lance.

And Garoppolo, in the final year of his contract that saves the team $25 million in cap space if he’s traded, is heading elsewhere.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Garoppolo said Wednesday. “It has been in mine, you know, really this whole season. Just I knew what type of season it was, knew everything that was going on behind the scenes and whatnot. So it was a little different.

“But, at the same time, it’s like you’re saying you’ve got to toe that line because you don’t want to get too emotional in those moments. And you’ve just got to go play football when it comes down to it.”

Garoppolo had a solid season, completing 68.3 percent of his passes with 20 TDs and 12 interceptions. So he obviously put the future aside long enough to contribute. Still, it wasn’t easy.

“But, the human side definitely comes into play,” Garoppolo admitted. “You feel it for a little bit after the game. And I think 24 hours after that, you’ve got to move on quickly and we’ve done that pretty well.”

Steelers Want To Win For Big Ben

In 2005 when the Pittsburgh Steelers finished second in the AFC North but got into the playoffs as a Wild Card team, the team rallied around the fact Jerome Bettis was retiring after the season.

The rallying cry within the locker room and, indeed, the entire organization was to win for Bettis and send him into retirement a champion.

Ben Roethlisberger was the starting quarterback in only his second NFL season in 2005. Now Roethlisberger understands how Bettis felt because he’s retiring after this season.

And if you’re wondering if the 2021-22 Steelers approach their veteran QB like players on that long-ago club did the Bus — telling him they want to win for him so he goes out a winner — Roethlisberger has an answer:

“Yeah, they do,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “And I want to just pass along my words of wisdom to them. It’s kind of one of those things where, you never really know if you’re going to get a chance to get back. And when I tell them that they look at me like, ‘Well, you’ve been here 12 times in 18 years.’

“So I just try and reiterate to them that you just got to appreciate and understand it. That you have to go out there and just fully commit everything to it because every mistake is magnified, but you got to have fun at the same time. Hopefully they all understand. I think they do.”

Roethlisberger understands what today’s young guys want to do for him because when he was young, he wanted to succeed for Bettis.

“I wanted to go win for Jerome, because you know what he meant,” Roethlisberger said. “Maybe they feel the same way. I don’t know. It’s not like Jerome ever came to me and said, ‘Guys, let’s go win it for me.’ He didn’t have to say that. We wanted to win it for
him anyway, and so I think I understood wanting to win for him.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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