Let’s face it: After Seattle stood in its way for the better part of last decade, San Francisco finally made it back to the Super Bowl.
Whether the team's success was a function of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive genius, Richard Sherman’s post-injury resurgence, or Jimmy Garoppolo’s noted handsomeness, the 49ers will find themselves matched up against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game this weekend.
Even if your team of choice is already set in stone (sorry San Francisco), here are some familiar faces you might want to pull for during your watch party.
Richard Sherman. After watching Sherman appear in back-to-back Super Bowls with the Seahawks, it’ll be especially surreal to see him on the big stage dressed in red—particularly since Seattle fans are accustomed to seeing him rip the hearts out of 49ers fans. (Have you stopped replaying his NFC championship tipped pass yet?)
Sherman’s easy-to-spot hatred toward the 49ers ended when previous head coach Jim Harbaugh left the organization. Sherman’s torn Achilles, clashes with coaches, and increased financial demands led him to sign with the Niners on a team-friendly, incentive-laden contract in 2018. Basically, Sherman bet on himself.
Did it pay off? Well, going into the game on Sunday, it’s hard to argue that Sherman isn’t still the best corner in the game. If his continued dominance and status as a Seahawks legend don't make him hard enough to root against, his continued philanthropic efforts in the Northwest (last year he paid off $20,000 of lunch debt for students in the Tacoma School District) make it nearly impossible.
Frank Clark. Back in April 2019, the Seahawks traded away the extension-seeking Clark after his career-best year, getting a pair of draft picks, while Clark quickly inked a five-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. The defensive end spent four years with the Seahawks prior to the trade. This year with the Chiefs, he piled up eight regular-season sacks, plus four more in the team’s two playoff matchups, and was selected to the 2019 Pro Bowl.
Dante Pettis. When it comes to Washington college standouts in the NFL, just one can be found on a Super Bowl roster. Niners receiver Dante Pettis spent four seasons at the University of Washington. In 2017, his senior season, he earned first-team All-American honors and set the NCAA record for career punt returns for touchdowns. The 49ers drafted him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and after some promising moments during his rookie season, a combination of injury and ineffectiveness has kept Pettis off the field since November 2019. It’s up in the air if Pettis will get any run in the big game, but a championship ring would be a way to shine, nonetheless.