By Andrew Joseph / Special to Xpress
The press conferences are over, the practices are all complete, and SF State students are fired up for the 49ers to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, which kicks off today in New Orleans, La.
“It’s a good year for the Bay Area this year with the Giants winning the World Series and the Warriors doing so well,” Michaela Booker said. A senior three-guard for the women’s basketball team, Booker said she plans to watch the game at a friend’s house.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh took a controversial gamble midseason, when he benched veteran quarterback Alex Smith in favor of second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Turlock native and University of Nevada product shocked the league with his athleticism, most notably in his historic performance in the 49ers first playoff game of the season. Kaepernick dismantled the defense of the Green Bay Packers, setting an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181.
“The 49ers have the potential to win because of the mobility of Kaepernick,” Stephen De la Cruz, a professor of communications at SF State and a former High School coach at Balboa High School, said.
Even with the success enjoyed by Kaepernick, Kelly Ostello, a sophomore women’s volleyball player at SF State, thinks Kaepernick’s popularity might be a passing fad.
“I like Kaepernick, but I miss Alex Smith,” Ostello said. “People who don’t know much about football are jumping on Kaepernick’s bandwagon.”
Others think that Kaepernick may owe his recognition to more than just his performance on the field.
“Girls didn’t know him before he became a starter,” said Daniel Lowery, a senior criminal justice major. “They’re all Niner fans now because he looks good,” said Lowery, a Dallas Cowboys fan and tri-sport athlete at Soquel High School.
But not everybody at SF State will be donning red and gold tomorrow.
Martha Reyes, a sociology and Latin studies double major, is an Oakland resident and die hard Raiders fan. She’ll be rooting for the Ravens at her brother’s house in San Jose.
“People have fan pride,” she said. “They stay true to their team no matter who is playing in the Super Bowl.”
The Super Bowl is the biggest stage of professional sports, drawing a record 111.3 million viewers last season according to The Mercury News. Most watch to see a great game, some for the halftime show, and others to enjoy arguably the best commercials of the year.
This year many more will watch to see what has been named “The Harbowl,” an epic first-ever Super Bowl battle of two brothers as opposing head coaches.
Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday, Jim Harbaugh said he feels “very excited, everybody is attacking this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
“(This game is) probably a little tougher emotionally,” said Raven’s head coach John Harbaugh, elder of the two brothers. “There’s a little bit of that relationship element, a little more strong, maybe more strong than coaching against someone else.”
The historic significance of the match-up isn’t lost on Benson Trung, a San Francisco native and business major in his senior year at SF State.
“This is a once in a lifetime thing,” Trung said. “What are the chances of two brothers playing against each other? It’s like hitting the lottery.”
The 49ers haven’t made it to the Super Bowl since 1994, but they come in with a pretty good record in title games. They have been to the Super Bowl a total of five times in franchise history, going undefeated in each appearance.
This season, in what is being called their “Quest for Six,” San Francisco is favored to win in New Orleans to begin a new dynasty to add to their storied history.