Antrel Rolle returns to SF, seven years after pre-draft visit

Before the 49ers selected Alex Smith with the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005, they hosted four players for pre-draft visits: Smith, Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Braylon Edwards (remember him?) and cornerback Antrel Rolle.

Rolle, selected eighth overall by the Arizona Cardinals, joined the Giants in March after the Cardinals released him. Even though Smith and Rodgers were the 49ers’ true finalists for that No. 1 pick, Rolle thought there was a chance he might start his career with San Francisco. It resumes there, at least, Sunday when the Giants visit the 49ers for the NFC Championship.

“There was talk of it. I went up and had a nice visit with the San Francisco 49ers,” Rolle recalled today on a conference call. “I was optimistic. It’s the NFL draft. You never know what to expect.”

And what does he expect out of Alex Smith on Sunday?

“Alex is a good quarterback in my eyes,” Rolle said. “Anytime you can go 13-3 with you being the starting QB, you might be doing something right. He’s definitely taking his game up another level.”

If history is any indication, we should expect another riveting playoff game between the 49ers and Giants. But Rolle discounted that angle: “That has nothing to do with Sunday. Every game presents its own challenge. We’re aware of the history between these two teams. But it has nothing to do with Sunday.”

Rolle also downplayed any back-and-forth talk or Tweets between the Giants and 49ers. After saying Monday that the Giants “can’t be beaten,” Rolle followed that up by warning the 49ers that they should be careful what they wished for in terms of this matchup. That comment stemmed from an innocent quote Vernon Davis said on Monday how he was praying for the Giants to win, more so because Davis wanted to play at home rather than Green Bay.

When told that the 49ers have followed orders and not responded to the Giants’ verbal boasts, Rolle said:

“Doesn’t matter to me. They were the ones that made the comment, they wish the giants win. They wish the Giants win. All I said was that their wish was granted and be careful what you wish for. I don’t need them to speak back and we don’t need to speak to them. The game’s going to be played Sunday. May the best man win.”

Rolle admitted he is friends with a couple 49ers, that he hangs out in the offseason with Davis and Frank Gore in Miami.

“We’re extremely close. We hang out in the offseason when hang out inMiami or take random trips,” Rolle said. “I trained with Frank. We went to Miami together. We’re all good friends. But that won’t have anything to do what happens Sunday. You do your hugs and handshakes after the game.”

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