January 27, 2013

Super Bowl: It comes down to a game, but the subplots abound

From coaching brothers, to the site, to a linebacker legend saying goodbye, it will be a big Super Bowl.

By BARRY WILNER / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Jim Caldwell, Joe Flacco
click image to enlarge

Joe Flacco, left, could be commanding a huge contract if he’s able to lead the Baltimore Ravens to a victory in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Associated Press

Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith
click image to enlarge

Alex Smith, left, and Colin Kaepernick, the starter, have the arms to test the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary and help provide a championship for the San Francisco 49ers.

The Associated Press

Like Flacco, Kaepernick owns a postseason record, rushing for 181 yards in a divisional-round victory over Green Bay. Then he helped beat Atlanta with his arm to get the Niners back to the Super Bowl.

"Being an NFL quarterback, there's a lot of advantages that come with it," Kaepernick said. "There are a lot of doors that open when you're a quarterback, but at the same time you're under a lot of scrutiny."

Just like the coaches, particularly in this one. There's no escaping the Harbowl, nor will there be as Super Bowl week swings into full gear.

Sons of a highly successful college coach, Jack Harbaugh, they have taken vastly different routes to get to the top. John, who is older than Jim by 15 months, is a career coach who earned his current position with the Ravens largely because of his special-teams work in Philadelphia. Among the candidates he beat out for the Ravens job was Rex Ryan.

John Harbaugh has led Baltimore to the postseason in all five of his years as coach, an unprecedented achievement.

Jim was a first-round draft pick by Chicago in 1987 out of Michigan. He quarterbacked four NFL teams before heading into coaching, and was a winner at San Diego – the Toreros, not the Chargers – and Stanford before San Francisco hired him in 2011.

Last season he took the Niners to the NFC title game. This year they took that huge next step.

So this year's family reunion comes early, and in New Orleans.

"Oh, man, I know that they're very proud, I know that either way they're going to feel for the one that loses and they're going to be happy for the other," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "But at the end of the day they're all family, and you bring a Super Bowl ring back to the family."

New Orleans has been a big part of the Super Bowl for decades. This will be the 10th time it has been held in the Big Easy, but the first in 11 years.

When Katrina ravaged the region, the NFL was adamant that the Saints would return – they did in 2006 after a full season on the road – and so would the Super Bowl once New Orleans was ready for it.

Here it is.

After the Ravens qualified, Reed and receiver Jacoby Jones celebrated more than a conference title. They rejoiced about one very special trip home to play in the biggest game of their lives.

"I rushed into the locker room to call my mom because I know that my family has been going through some things," Reed said, "so I'm just thankful to be going home, and for the whole of New Orleans to see some hometown guys. Jacoby, we talked about it. We haven't been there since Katrina. We're just grateful."

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