GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ty Montgomery felt so bad that he dropped a deep pass on the first play of Sunday's game at San Francisco that the rookie receiver sought out quarterback Aaron Rodgers as soon as the series was over.
And he apologized.
"I don't need an apology on plays like that," Rodgers said. "He came over and felt bad because now we're sitting next to the receivers on the sideline after possessions so he felt really bad."
If Rodgers wasn't sure about the psyche of the Green Bay Packers rookie receiver before that, he knew then.
Coach Mike McCarthy knew well before then that Montgomery possessed something few rookies do: The mental wherewithal to process everything that happens in an NFL game and adapt on the fly. He noticed it during the Packers' rookie minicamp back in May.
"He went home the first night, [came back the next day] and answered every question," McCarthy said. "[Assistant coach] Alex Van Pelt was extremely impressed from that second day. You knew then football was natural to him and he was able to pick up concepts and the ability to memorize and then come in and grab a hold of a scheme that fast as far as what was on paper was definitely unique."
That's why no one was worried Montgomery might go in the tank after he failed to haul in what could have been an 80-yard touchdown to start Sunday's game on what McCarthy described as "a good throw, tough catch."
"I said, 'Hey, don't worry about it. I'm going to come back to you. You'll be fine,'" Rodgers said. "He's a great kid. He does things the right way, cares about it a lot. I've said it before, the things that are frustrating are the mental mistakes because that is directly related to your preparation. That right there, that'll happen. The physical mistakes will happen. You have to be able to move on from those and give him some confidence."
It was no surprise to anyone that Montgomery still managed to make an impact against the 49ers. He caught three passes and -- in a new wrinkle --carried twice out of the backfield while playing an increased role because Davante Adams (ankle) was inactive.
"I can definitely bounce back," said Montgomery, who has nine catches and one touchdown so far this season. "I think I caught everything else that came my way the rest of the game."
Even when Adams returns -- which might not be for Sunday's game against the Rams considering he did not practice on Wednesday -- the Packers likely will find a way to keep Montgomery involved. The third-round pick from Stanford has excelled on kickoff returns (he ranks second among those with at least six returns at 31.5 yards per attempt) and has shown the versatility to play in the slot, on the perimeter and out of the backfield.
He might also be the best option to replace the deep threat the Packers lost when Jordy Nelson sustained his season-ending knee injury in the preseason.
He just needs to stop apologizing.
"I'm just that type of guy," Montgomery said. "I have a hard time saying stuff like this because I feel like people don't really believe me, but I really do feel football is a team game and when you don't do your part you let down the other guys. That was a huge play, and I like to be a man of word and live out my promises. If I’m out there, that means I’m telling you I’m going to make the play for you.”